June 30, 2010

Ombuds are Valuable Supplement to Compliance Efforts

An article by Chuck Howard appeared in the June issue of the BNA Prevention of Corporate Liability Current Report. He points out that corporate tools developed in response to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines -- compliance and ethics programs, employee hotlines and whistleblower policies -- have limits to their effectiveness in dealing with a worker who is reluctant to come forward.

Howard asserts that there are several reasons why these tools are imperfect:
  • Authority Has Drawbacks
  • Hotlines Are Underutilized
  • Retaliation Is Insidious
  • Whistleblowers Pay High Price
Howard concludes that Organizational Ombuds programs are, "One solution to address the gap arising from these compliance tools... If designed to be an independent, neutral, informal, and confidential resource." (Shipman & Goodwin.)

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