i2 Ethics blog

Reporting channels in Spain: Do they work or not?

Published by Diario Responsable in 18/04/2016

Spain is different… again.


The cases concerning corruption have tripled in the last decade. Everyone calls for better laws and improving control mechanisms to stop this flow of ceaseless, 

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tiresome and corruption inside and outside: in private, business, public, political and institutional sectors. But when we have the right tools at our disposal, we belittle them and we make void the grounds telling that they are no use, that they are not effective or that they malfunction... because in Spain we are different.

We are not Anglo-Saxons, in our culture to "snitch" does not enter the mobster code that keeps us together as a society. Reporting channels reduce the business average loss caused by fraud and corruption in half, but in Spain we still say that "these systems do not work, I have a channel in my company and I receive a complaint a year" (literal sentence of a company’s CEO with more than 10,000 employees).

Do they work or not? Let's clear up the doubt once and for all. Let's see:

Fraud is pervasive and does not discriminate so, unfortunately, there is no company that is free from it. According to ACFE, the most prestigious anti-fraud association in the world, as different studies collect their Report to the Nations, "more than 40% of corporate fraud cases are detected by reports from employees themselves." In fact, reporting channels are the fastest and most effective method to detect fraud, far ahead from other prevention tools such as audits.
Controlling fraud is not only something already required by law, but its outsourcing should become a priority for the responsible management of any organization. Spanish prosecutors themselves establish in their recent circular that the reporting channel is a mandatory tool in the compliance plan of any company.
Compliance plans are a firm commitment to a "regulated self-regulation" formula in the fight against crime. The criminal liability of corporations, as legal persons, affects not only the crimes committed within their organization, but also those who may commit third parties such as suppliers, subcontractors or freelancers who provide services to the company.
Therefore, it is not only necessary to have a system of reporting irregularities to protect the one who complaints, but fulfills its function of preventing the commission of crimes, including those:
- Crimes against privacy and computer trespass
- Proper and improper Scams
- Punishable insolvencies: risings and punishable contests.
- Damage and computer hacking
- Crimes against intellectual property.
- Crimes against the market and consumers.


A parent who does not want his/her child to watch TV tells the child, "the T.V. does not work". The parent does not care if the T.V. is really working or not, he/she doesn’t want her/his son/daughter to use it. So I tend to think that perhaps the businessman who claims that his/her company’s reporting channel does not work perhaps what he/she precisely wants is not to be used by anyone. Out of sight, out of mind. Very Spanish.
We are all fed up with abusers, from those who take something that does not belong to them and which hurts everyone, not just the company. Corruption and fraud in companies, apart from the economic losses that they cause, they also damage the employees’ morale who do things correctly, damages the faithfulness of those who believe in your company and which are committed with doing things right.
We have the perception that in Spain enterprises don’t report. That's because in our country more than 95% of companies still don’t have/or have never had a mechanism control by which they could "raise complaints" without fear of reprisals. And within the 5% that does have an ethical line, half have bad implanted mechanisms, which mean that they are designed to "discourage" their use and not to encourage them for their sake.
If one day going to the office and "the meter doesn’t work", you may wonder, it doesn’t work now, but will work later?, when? And most importantly, why doesn’t it work? All these questions should be those who have complaints mechanisms in their companies and believe that they are not useful

The reporting channels are effective and work when you want them to work.

  • A bad mechanism is interpreted as a deterrent message by employees.
  • A bad mechanism increases the distrust among employees.
  • A bad mechanism leads to complaints’ management irregular situations.
  • A bad mechanism makes the defendant to become aware ahead of time.
  • A bad mechanism makes the company not to really know is what is happening internally.
  • A bad mechanism encourages the bad employee’s sense of impunity.
  • A bad mechanism can lead to dock the company.


When channels don’t work, why is that?

  • They have not adequately communicated that throughout the organization.
  • They have not given adequate training.
  • They don’t make reminders to employees to show the organization’s commitment.
  • There is no real commitment from the company.
  • They have already implemented it internally through the CRM or resident in the intranet.
  • Internal networks are safe against strangers from the company but that does not "feel" of security to employees.
  • People who receive complaints internally are several within the same operating department.
  • People who receive complaints are from the management’s trust but not from its employees.
  • On more than one occasion the accused is informed "informally" by third parties that he/she has a claim against him/her.
  • Accessible only to make a complaint through the company’s intranet.


When channels work, why is that?
The decision-making process at all levels of the company is geared to compliance.
Managers promote with their example a real culture of compliance.
There is a clear commitment from the company’s senior management to prevent the commission of crimes and a clear support to the compliance program.
Behavior and involvement of the Board of Directors and senior executives moved a culture of compliance to the rest of the company.
There is no hostility of managers towards compliance programs.
Management messages in this matter are clear and unambiguous and do not imply ambiguity or indifference.
There is no management conduct that allows subordinates to interpret that is worth taking the risk of unfulfilment in exchange for the greatest economic benefit.
The company’s primarily responsibles do not violate the prevention and control model.
Management does neither reward nor incentive, directly or indirectly, the failure model of organization and prevention.
The discovery of the breach occurs internally, by the company itself, and the offender is punished immediately, without tolerance cases occur.
Zero tolerance applies to all compliances, both to subordinates and to managers.

In conclusion, reporting channels or ethical lines and the companies that have them, benefit in many ways that are positive their productivity, reputation and market competitiveness.




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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

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