Disclosing misconduct in the workplace

Workplace misconduct can put everyone involved in a bad situation, including those who witnessed it. Employees can be afraid to report misconduct for fear of losing their job or jeopardizing a promotion. According to the National Busi­­­­­­­ness Ethics Sur­­­­­­vey of the U.S. Work­­­­­force conducted by The Ethics Re­­source Cen­­­­ter, “41% of people in the workforce have seen misconduct in their workplace … six of 10 people reported what they saw or experienced to someone.”

If you do witness misconduct, take a moment to think about how and where to raise concern, writes Jan Sullivan-Chalmers for Florida Today. If management is involved in the misconduct, there are other possible venues to place a complaint.

Your supervisor’s manager. When reporting to your manager’s boss or the CEO, note that your complaint will most likely not stay with that person. It may be transferred to someone else, or it is possible that nothing will happen at all.

An HR professional. An HR em­­ployee will know how important it is to deal with an individual em­­ployee’s complaint, as well as a complaint from higher up because they have dealt with issues similar to yours before.

An ethics officer. While ethics de­­part­­ments are usually in place to deal with the standards of the organization as a whole, they will typically have something in place to allow you to report misconduct.

If you are concerned about retaliation, make sure to discuss anonymity with the channel you are disclosing to. If you are disclosing your identity, make sure every detail you describe is clear and intentional.

You need to feel safe where you work, and while most will refrain from disclosing misconduct, telling someone can help your organization maintain its ethical standards.

— Adapted from “The Edge: There Are Ways To Report Misconduct,” Jan Sullivan-Chalmers, Florida Today.