Q: What is retaliation monitoring?
A: Retaliation monitoring is the process of actively keeping tabs on individuals involved in investigations to determine if any of the involved parties suffered from retaliation in connection with their involvement with the investigation.
Q: Why is it important?
A: The most recent DOJ guidance on the evaluation of corporate compliance programs emphasizes the importance of it, but more importantly, it is the right thing to do. It gives the ethics & compliance program the ability to monitor and detect if retaliation could possibly be occurring. One of the biggest threats to any ethics & compliance program is employee fear of retaliation for speaking up. In order to protect organizational justice, retaliation monitoring is essential.
Q: When can retaliation occur?
A: Retaliation can occur during or after an investigation. Most instances of retaliation occur within the first 3 weeks (according to ECI Global Business Ethics Survey).
Q: Should an organization monitor for retaliation for all cases?
A: That may not be practical, based on the nature of the issue or the organization’s case volume. If you can’t monitor all, consider at a minimum monitoring high profile cases, cases that are particularly sensitive in nature, involve senior executives or other individuals with influence, and cases that you have a gut feeling that retaliation is a potential.
Q: Can only reporters experience retaliation?
A: No. Reporters experience retaliation most often, but anyone involved in an investigation, whether it’s the implicated party, a witness, or even the investigator, can potentially suffer from retaliation.
Q: How can an organization begin to implement retaliation monitoring processes using the Convercent system?
A: One of the simplest and most impactful ways to monitor for retaliation is to utilize the “task” feature in case manager. Once an investigation is closed, it’s difficult to remember to think about a case in the past because you’ve moved on to focusing on the open investigations. Consider adding a task at 30, 60 and 90 days post investigation to check in with the reporter (and possibly the implicated individual). This enables you to have that virtual tickler to remind you to go back into a closed case and follow up with an individual. A simple check in of “how are things going” can be a great way to casually engage parties in sharing in a dialogue. If retaliation is occurring, chances are they will take this opportunity to share their concerns with you.
Q: What are other methods to monitor for retaliation?
A: If a program is already utilizing the check-in method noted above, some other proven techniques are:
- Cross-referencing your involved parties list with performance rating data (provided by HR) to monitor if any involved parties have suffered a substantive change in performance rating, e.g. 2-level drop in rating.
- Comparing compensation data of a reporter to that of their peers to see if compensation has slowed or become stagnant in relation to their cohort.
- Monitoring terminations and resignations of involved parties.
- Observing movement of involved parties within the company, e.g. change in department, promotion/demotion, etc.
Q: If we see trends in any of the data above, does that mean there’s retaliation occurring?
A: Maybe but not necessarily. The point in acquiring this data is to monitor for the possibility of retaliation so that you can take further action. If you find data points that are of concern, that gives you an indication to assess the situation further.
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