The trouble with ethical failures is oftentimes the difficulty in finding them. This three-step guide from the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) how to find ethics issues and what to do when they have been identified.
Step 1: Supervisors show their commitment to ethics.
Research by ECI has repeatedly shown that when employees report misconduct, they most often report it to their supervisors. Unfortunately, not all supervisors routinely model and promote the importance of ethics by their words and actions. Analysis by ECI reveals that employees who trust their supervisors and see them demonstrate a commitment to ethics are also more likely to report the interpersonal misconduct when observed.
In short: If supervisors want employees to feel comfortable reporting to them, they need to intentionally demonstrate that they care about ethics and about employees.
Step 2: Nurture a speak up culture.
By their actions and reactions, leaders (at all levels) make it clear whether candor is valued or seen as troublemaking. In strong ethical cultures, transparency is valued, employees feel comfortable raising concerns, and bad news is not swept under the rug.
Not surprisingly, if employees feel cared about, heard, and supported when it comes to business issues that arise, they are more likely to bring up ethics concerns as well.
In short: To encourage reporting, leaders at all levels of the organisation should develop an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable raising concerns.
Step 3: Be transparent.
Few enjoy delivering bad news or taking responsibility for things that go wrong. But leaders who are committed to transparency foster more positive, respectful workplaces. When leaders share information about wrongdoing at their company and talk about the consequences of engaging in misconduct, it sends a powerful positive message to employees. Employees who believe their leaders are transparent about misconduct in their organization are more likely to report misconduct.
In short: Leaders who want employees to share difficult truths with them should model a commitment to telling the truth, especially when it is difficult to do so.