A question that I continually hear following reports of company misconduct, fraud, or other illicit activity, especially when the action was too large to possibly go unnoticed, was how the action went unreported for so long. Why don’t people speak up when they know something improper is going on at their organization? There are a host of possible reasons, but a recent article by Ethical Corporation, Workplace Misconduct – Making ‘Speak Up’ Procedures Effective, shares some interesting statistics as well as some practical advice.
First for a few sobering statistics from the article. Here are the top four reasons why people were likely not to speak up:
- 21% – Possible alienation from colleagues
- 19% – That the issue was ‘none of their business’
- 13% – Fear of their job being jeopardized as a result
- 12% – ‘Everybody is doing it’
While the first and third seem like reasonable initial reactions, I find the second and forth as particularly troubling.
The article continues with excellent advice for organizations looking to increase the percentage of individuals willing to speak up when they become aware of any kind of misconduct. In addition, the suggestions are great building blocks for any company wishing to strengthen ethical conduct among its employees and partners. The article details the follow four principles:
- Create and support an ethical culture;
- Take swift action when misconduct is identified;
- Ensure transparency in all communication (hmmm, I wonder if Dell is listening…); and,
- Provide ethical training and leadership
I think the above list is a great start. Add in a stipulation for ongoing training to maintain the ethical culture, and to ensure the retention of the training and leadership, and I think it would be a fantastic platform for organizations of any size.
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