The breaches that organizations have in matters of ethics have always been considered extremely secret. There are not many institutions that comment on the number of complaints they have received through their ethics channel, and less those that determine what were the actions that generated that violation, or the measures taken in this regard. There is, one might say, a taboo.
Now, this is not an invitation to forget the principle of confidentiality and anonymity on which ethics channels are based. Let’s keep it. But, as organizations, we are able to expose what our problems have been, what situations we are facing and what we are doing about them, at least internally.
Why dare to take this step?
- When talking about the issues that we face and are managing, we make our employees and other stakeholders understand that our ethics channel is working, and that we are not leaving aside their concerns or complaints.
- We show that we are learning from our mistakes. It makes us demonstrate that we are not a perfect organization, but that we develop all the measures within our reach to be it.
- We generate disincentives for an inadequate performance: knowing that investigations are generated by a conflict of interest, by harassment, by corruption; that are being effectively managed and, even, using as examples, it is incited and induced to maintain good ethical behavior.
What we recommend? An exercise that works, for example, is the development of ethics workshops. In these workshops, providing examples of what happened, without names, is a good alternative. Instead of hypothetical cases, let’s explain what we have faced, what our most common problems are and how they originate.
There are many occasions, it is worth adding, in which people read the Code of Ethics and do not understand it. Even, its writing can be misleading. In this sense, communicating real cases helps the staff to understand what, many times, they do not know how to determine whether it is right or wrong. Let us be open, then, without violating the confidentiality that corresponds to our ethical lines. Let’s put aside the taboo.