Posted September 30, 2020

A safe and confidential resource for ethical dilemmas at Temple

The Office of Ethics and Compliance promotes a speak-up culture with their Helpline that allows faculty, staff and students to ask questions and share concerns.

Alex Diaz
Photography By: 
Joseph V. Labolito
As the university’s chief compliance officer, Alejandro J. Diaz seeks to build a speak-up culture on campus.

The Office of Ethics and Compliance at Temple is committed to promoting integrity and ethical behavior across the university. The office provides resources to ensure faculty, staff and students can research, work, and study in a culture of fairness and mutual respect. It’s an independent function with a direct reporting line to Temple’s Board of Trustees and has the full support of senior leadership in the university. 

Ensuring an atmosphere of trust, where all members of the community feel confident asking questions and raising concerns, is a top priority for the office. Ethical problems arise when members of an organization are afraid to voice their concerns for fear of retaliation or a belief that speaking up will not make a difference, explained Alejandro J. Diaz, the university’s chief compliance officer.

“That’s why the office seeks to cultivate a speak-up culture on campus—an atmosphere where people are protected from retaliation and can feel comfortable raising questions and concerns about difficult issues.”  

In 2019, the ethics and compliance office introduced the Ethics and Compliance Helpline to facilitate discussion and serve as a resource for the university community. The Helpline is a confidential reporting system that allows for anonymous communication. It is operated by a third-party and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week..

No one should be afraid that their question or concern is too small, said Diaz. The office welcomes everyone to use the Helpline and won’t turn anyone away. They take all claims seriously and often enlist the help of other resources throughout the university, working in collaboration with them, to investigate reports. 

The ethics and compliance office and its Helpline are making an impact. Since its inception in 2019, the office has fielded over 149 reports either through the Helpline, phone calls or walk-ins. “This means we have had 149 opportunities to fix problems,” said Diaz.

Educating employees at all levels is also integral to maintaining an ethical environment at Temple. The ethics and compliance office works to ensure that supervisors know how to communicate with their teams, have the proper incentives and aren’t afraid to speak up.

Having the kind of stand-up/speak-up culture envisioned by the Office of Ethics and Compliance helps get in front of problems and prevents issues from getting out of hand. 

“It’s about prevention and resolution of potential ethical issues,” said Diaz. “It’s clear the faculty, staff and students care deeply about Temple. We want the ethics and compliance office to be a place where all members of the community can confidently voice concerns, knowing that those concerns will be heard and that appropriate action will be taken to ensure we live up to our standards.”

Learn more about how the Ethics and Compliance Helpline works.