All companies have a standard of ethics that MUST be followed, but ethics goes beyond just company policy. There are laws to be obeyed, ethical practices to live up to, and a standard of excellence that every professional needs to strive to reach.
When there is unethical behavior or poor etiquette in the workplace, it is ABSOLUTELY imperative that it is reported. If you find yourself in the unenviable position of being the one to report the unethical behavior, here’s how to do it right:
1. Investigate the unethical behavior
Just because something looks unethical, that doesn’t mean that it automatically is. There may be unforeseen reasons why things are being done the way they are, and your jumping to conclusions will only make the situation worse. Before you file any reports, do a bit of digging into the practices that appear unethical. Find out what’s really going on, and talk to others who may have noticed it as well. Give your co-workers a chance to explain themselves before you take it to HR.
2. Compile proof
If things are as unethical as they appear, it’s time to compile the proof of the unethical practices. You may need documents to back up your claims, or you can take notes of the things that are morally or ethically wrong. Make sure to note who is doing what and when, and gather any paperwork that can help to back up your claims. ALWAYS have copies--one for yourself and one for HR.
3. File a claim with HR
The Human Resources department in your company will be able to help you with the process of filing the claim. They will usually walk you through it step by step, but they’ll question you to ensure that you have the necessary proof. They want to avoid any problems at your office just like you do, so they’ll want to be certain that there truly is unethical behavior taking place.
4. Fill out the reports
There is going to be a bit of paperwork that you will need to fill out to file the claim, so be patient. Fill out the paperwork correctly and neatly, and don’t be in a rush. Take it home and fill it out there, where none of your co-workers can snoop on you or see what you are doing. Make sure your report ONLY contains facts, with as little personal opinion as possible. Your only goal is to deal with the unethical behavior, not act vindictively to push a wrongdoer. Take emotion out of it, but treat it as a "facts only" report.
5. Keep it to yourself
Once the claim has been filed, HR will do its own digging into the problem. They will handle the investigation into the claim, and they will take steps to correct the issue. DO NOT talk with others about it, and do not gossip about the person being investigated. No matter how much proof you have, don’t share it with others. Just keep to yourself, keep working hard, and let the matter sort itself out.
If you follow the steps above, you’ll do YOUR part to ensure that the problem of unethical behavior is handled the right way!