Reluctant to use the UCF IntegrityLine?
“Our university’s compliance and ethics office expects me to report any wrongdoing that I might observe or suspect. So far I haven’t been put to the test, but just thinking about the possibility of ‘reporting’ something on the IntegrityLine makes me feel uncomfortable.”
Have you had similar thoughts? Do you imagine that if the time came to report a wrongdoing that you have observed, you might be reluctant to report it? It is common for employees to have second thoughts before reporting suspected or observed wrongdoings. In fact, surveys of worldwide employee groups in large companies have uncovered some common perceptions about reporting such incidents. The reluctance seems to come from these perceptions:
- It’s disloyal to co-workers to report incidents of wrongdoing
- Fear of retribution or retaliation
- The belief that reporting wrongdoings won’t change anything
Let’s explore the reality behind these perceptions.
Loyalty is a virtue, but how is it manifested? Is it loyalty to the ship or the shipmates, to our university or to your co-workers? You may believe that by protecting a fellow employee you are being a friend and a loyal co-worker. You may think if you don’t report your observation, your co-worker will work things out or not be found out. However, in most situations, the wrongdoing was not intentional. The sooner the error is reported, the quicker it can be resolved. You should also realize that if you have observed a situation that should be reported, chances are good that someone else has observed it too.
In the long run, your co-worker might benefit from you reporting the situation, or by reporting it him or herself. Reporting your observation to your supervisor or the IntegrityLine will also help the university maintain our reputation for compliance and ethics, which keeps our workplace healthy. A healthy workplace is a benefit to all employees.
Fear of Retribution
Our university’s policy on Reporting Misconduct and Protection from Retaliation clearly states that any type of retaliation for reports of wrongdoing are not tolerated. We expect our leadership to encourage employees to report or ask questions and to enforce our non-retaliation policy to the fullest degree. No one need fear retaliation for contacting the IntegrityLine about any situation.
When a problem is observed, the best course of action is to create an open dialogue with supervisors and management about any problem or situation. However, the IntegrityLine provides an avenue for employees to speak up when dialogue is not possible. The anonymous nature of the IntegrityLine creates a secure forum for employees who believe that they might otherwise not be fairly heard. You should consider the IntegrityLine a secure resource for you to ask questions and report your observations.
Nothing Will Change
Many of the surveyed employees reported that “the organization has always done it this way” no matter what, and so they failed to make an effort to be heard. Often, situations that cost an institution hundreds of thousands of dollars may have been avoided if employees had used the IntegrityLine for communication with management.
Be assured that reports to our IntegrityLine are taken very seriously. Situations are investigated, and systemic problems are assigned to individuals or committees to be resolved within the organization. It may be true that organizational change sometimes takes a long time. But change will never happen without a stream of information and observations from employees who are committed to our organization’s success and ethical reputation.
Understanding the Investigation Process
Sometimes reports to the IntegrityLine simply require advice or a policy clarification. However, some reported observations or situations must be investigated. It is helpful if an employee who contacts the IntegrityLine is as specific as possible. In order to begin an investigation, the IntegrityLine needs details about who is involved, what was said, or what reports should be examined. All employees are required to cooperate fully in any investigation.
The investigating team will be made up of staff members appropriate for the reported situation. The team may include University Compliance, Ethics, and Risk, or perhaps University Audit, the Office of Institutional Equity, or an outside agency. Team members will keep knowledge of the case as confidential as possible until the investigation is complete.
Use the IntegrityLine
If you have a question or an observation, even if you are not sure that you have a dilemma, please contact the IntegrityLine or the compliance office directly. Usually contacts to the IntegrityLine are handled easily and the reporter can be satisfied with a policy reference or advice. But occasionally, issues run deep or are complex. Though these cases may not be easy to resolve, they are the ones that are important to bring to the table. Communication within our university is the key to our success now and in the future. The IntegrityLine is but one tool for you to use in our continuing dialogue to improve our individual selves and our university.