Despite the controversial context in which the word whistleblower has been used in the past couple of years, the term actually also refers to the business world, not just the one of classified information and top secret technologies. In fact, anyone can be a whistleblower - from a government employee who learns terrifying secrets to an entry-level employee who uses an ethics hotline to draw attention to improper conduct or fraud at the workplace. What do the two persons have in common? The medium; the existence of a safe, objective and, most of all, anonymous third party that receives the information and passed it on, without risking the identity of the whistleblower. In the business world, this medium is the employee hotline: an absolute necessity for modern companies that want to comply with national regulations and provide an ethical and pleasant workplace for all their employees.
An ethics hotline empowers the staff in many ways. Again, it's important to point out that the efficiency of such a hotline is due mainly to its anonymity. A character in a recent movie about the life of a famous whistleblower said that people tell the truth when they can hide behind a mask. Indeed, being open doesn't always work at the workplace. Some topics cannot be discussed openly in a meeting, nor confessed to a co-worker, because they are sensitive or uncomfortable. Unfortunately, there are countless cases of fraud, abuse and discrimination that occur all over the world and out of all the people that stand victims, only a small percentage take a step forward to reveal the things they have seen or heard. Usually, when they do this, they do it at great personal risks. They can be ridiculed for talking about how they are mistreated or they can be fired and blackmailed by superiors if they uncover fraud. However, the anonymity of an employee hotline allows them to speak openly about their concerns, without worrying that they will be punished.
An anonymous hotline is an essential component of the modern workplace and it is already obligatory in several countries. It empowers employees, allowing them to grow in an ethical workplace. In addition, it gives company owners an excellent solution to solving problems. An anonymous hotline encourages communication: if an employee has a problem he or she is more likely to talk about it during an anonymous, non-recorded phone call with a third party rather than bring it up at a company meeting. It addition, the operators at these hotlines are professional and well-trained. They know how to interview callers and, most importantly, they can discern fact from fiction, so that the company's reputation is not stained because of false accusations. Needless to say, notable calls will be reported to the company and if frequent employee concerns occur, they will be forwarded in the fastest time possible. All in all, employee ethics hotlines were created with the mission of solving business environment problems in a modern and civilized way. They promote respect, communication, honesty and they should be implemented in every company that wants to have these core values.