Let’s think about insurance for a moment. Would you invest in an insurance policy with no research and without spending a dime, and then jump through hoops in order to file a claim and hope it gets resolved? Probably not. Do you think of your ethics program—and especially your ethics reporting hotline—as insurance? You probably should.
Check this out: The City of Boise (Idaho) set up an ethics hotline with third-party provider a few years ago after a mayoral scandal. Now a local TV station is making noise that the hotline is worthless and has cost the city $24,000 over the past three years, and in the past year there were no calls into the hotline, so therefore the money was wasted! They say there is a no-cost alternative to a third-party hotline: set up an anonymous email through something like Yahoo! and just send an email with your concerns to a city official.
The TV station is pretty short-sighted to not realize that those kinds of complaints just might be swept under the rug were it not for an unbiased third-party provider to handle the reports. And then the complainant has no further recourse and no way to follow up on their report.
Do you want to send the message to your employees that you don’t care about what is going on in the workplace? One call to uncover fraud can pay for a third-party hotline program for many, many years in to come, which can save an organization financially, not to mention their reputation. That’s the very reason that we have insurance in the first place.
Almost 50% of fraudulent activity is reported through a third-party hotline. The TV station might want to investigate this question: Would you want to rely on an employee to take the initiative to set up a fake email address at a library to uncover fraud? Then, if you do receive the report, is it detailed enough to conduct an investigation? If you were to receive a report that someone was committing fraud in the accounting department for instance, what would you do next? Would you be scratching your head thinking, “Now what?” Or would you prefer to receive a detailed report of activity associated with the incident being reported, so you would know what your next steps would be?
Investing in your compliance initiative via an ethics hotline is like an insurance policy to prevent fraud—not a waste of money!