Tuesday, 14 February 2012 12:12

Hotline Failed to Blow Whistle

Another year, another instance of corporate misconduct and ethics failure. There are few smiling faces at Olympus the Japanese camera maker, after it found itself exposed to unwanted and negative international headlines when it dismissed their Chief Executive, only to see him whistle blow on events within the organisation.

It is alleged that Olympus has made some excessive and dubious over-payments involving a corporate acquisition. The organisation has apparently admitted that it has covered up investment losses for decades.

It is alleged that the executives responsible for the instances of corporate misconduct, were also responsible for the Olympus whistle blowing hotline and the information received through it.

As a result of information received from the whistle blower, it would appear that although Olympus operated a hotline as per Japanese legislation, corporate protocol was to ask employees to identify themselves when information required further investigation, thereby removing the all important choice for those with information – the right to chose anonymity or not.

SeeHearSpeakUp work with organisations to establish best practice, as to whom information is reported. Our clients appreciate that we aim to obtain a reporting platform across a wide range of senior management and that anonymity is always an option for those with information to pass.

It is disturbing to consider the lack of ethics and the dismissal of accepted compliance practices, for an organisation the size and scale of Olympus. It will be interesting to see how things develop.