An ethics hotline is a way for employees or other company stakeholders to report instances of wrongdoing or offer suggestions for improvements. An ethics hotline used to simply refer to a physical phone line that was used for whistleblowing, whereas now the meaning has expanded to include whistleblowing software more generally.
You may also hear an ethics hotline referred to as a whistleblowing system, speak-up line, fraud line plus a number of other names.
When a whistleblower wishes to alert a company’s management of their suspicions, they can do so through an ethics hotline. Traditionally, this would mean calling an ethics hotline on a physical phone, or leaving a note in a trust box. However, these days the most common method is to use an online whistleblowing system, which has the added bonus of anonymity for the whistleblower, plus a range of other helpful features.
The report is received by the individual in the company who is designated to deal with them (known as the ‘assignee’) and the matter is subsequently looked into. Some whistleblowing systems, such as FaceUp, then allow for follow up communication between whistleblower and assignee.
A whistleblower is anyone who works in or for an organization with suspicions that some kind of misconduct of wrongdoing is taking place. Wrongdoing can range from bullying and harassment, through to fraud and theft.
Whistleblowers are most commonly company employees, but can also be suppliers, contractors, freelancers, or anyone else who interacts with an organization.
A properly implemented ethics line will:
There are a whole host of different ethics lines on the market today. Here at FaceUp, we put together a list of some of the leading contenders in a recent post.
Whistleblowing - just a bureaucracy or an opportunity for your company?