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Promoting An Ethical Culture: The Organizational Ombudsman

Compliance & Ethics Professional - A Publication of the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics

August 2010

Authors: Charles L. Howard

The last decade is replete with examples of organizations in which people have not been comfortable raising workplace concerns and reporting misconduct or have been punished for doing so. Not surprisingly, the number of employees who observe misconduct and who fail or refuse to report it remains stubbornly high, and the 2009 recession exacerbated the situation. Indeed, the Supplemental Research Brief for the 2009 National Business Ethics Survey® documents the correlation between the cost-cutting measures taken and the significant increases in the number of employees who observed misconduct in companies that were prompted by the recession to adopt cost-cutting measures. In light of the findings of this report, now may be an appropriate time to reexamine both how we analyze the problem of employee reporting and the effectiveness of some of the tools that have been developed to encourage employee reporting. The organizational ombudsman is a tool that is particularly well adapted to address this issue.

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