Case Study: The Investigation into a Bank’s Corporate Trip
BY: ComplyLog|March 7, 2023|Whistleblowing
This is an anonymised case study
Corporate trips away are a common occurrence in companies. With multinationals bringing together employees from across the globe, there is the opportunity to network and share ideas with those that you do not normally work with closely. And away from the meetings and sessions, there is the opportunity to explore the host city and its attractions. However, this led to a costly investigation for one major bank whose employees met up in a European capital city.
Their choice of evening recreation led to reports that employees had acted inappropriately. As a result, the bank had to call in an external firm to unpick the facts of the case in a move that not only hit the organisation financially but also reputationally.
Background: The trip
The bank’s global debt capital markets team came together from their various bases to attend meetings and carry out their duties for the business. After a long day at work, a group of employees decided to visit a strip club in the evening.
It was alleged by a whistleblower that this involved putting pressure on younger colleagues to attend the club against their wishes. The reporting person, someone within the business, contacted the bank’s compliance department soon after the trip to share their concerns.
As a result, the bank felt that it was necessary to call in an external law firm to investigate the matter, at a huge cost.
Although the business wanted to carry out the inquest confidentially, it was revealed that the investigating firm concluded that there was no explicit pressure exerted on colleagues. However, a manager was disciplined for their part in the affair. The suggestion was that there was some form of misconduct committed at some point.
The group is said to have consisted of three senior managers and four junior staff. The person disciplined was one of the senior employees, according to reports. The reason was that the choice of venue for the post-work trip was deemed inappropriate.
The bank said publicly that it takes such matters seriously, and the utilisation of an external law firm to investigate shows that to be true. However, had the bank implemented a more robustcompliance programme, it might have avoided the situation altogether.
The more an organisation nurtures an ethical culture, the less likely it is to have to deal with such events. Employees should be clear about what constitutes an appropriate and an inappropriate activity for a work event. Even though the strip club trip took place after working hours, it involved a group of colleagues and took place on a work trip. So, it is impossible to disassociate the actions of the colleagues from their employment.
Without the appropriate culture and clear guidelines to help employeesmake ethical choices, there is a greater risk of inappropriate behaviour leading to costly investigations.
How to create a culture of compliance
The best way to reduce the chances of misconduct and avoid having to hold expensive investigations is to work to create aculture of compliance.
You need to go beyond just providing acode of conduct. You need to make sure employees understand and live that code. Showing buy-in from the very top of management is one way to prove how serious you are when it comes to ensuring the ethical behaviour of your staff. Regular training and the use of compliance tools also engrain that message into everyday life at the business.
How to handle whistleblowers
You can pave the way to a speak-up culture by implementing easy reporting channels, such as IntegrityLog. It is an online whistleblowing platform that helps you comply with the EU Whistleblowing Directive and keep the identities of reporting persons confidential. It also keeps investigations on track by alerting your compliance team to upcoming deadlines. To see how IntegrityLog can improve your company’s compliance culture, request a demo today.