Internal Reporting Systems

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Why Employees Don't Speak Up and How to Fix It

One of the major challenges in business ethics today is creating a safe environment where employees can raise concerns about possible misconduct and wrongdoing. Despite the proliferation of helplines and ethics offices, creating a safe environment where employees can raise concerns about possible misconduct without experiencing retaliation is still one of the least well-developed elements of most business ethics programs.

I wrote those words more than 15 years ago, yet the challenges of creating speak-up cultures remain. Companies often aunch speak up programs with policies, slick communications, and even employee training, thinking these steps will quickly encourage employees to raise concerns. It won’t—in fact it’s probably counterproductive. Creating a true speak-up culture is hard work and few easy answers exist.

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