What is the ethical channel?

Ethical channels have acquired great relevance since the recent and novel publication of Law 2/2023, of February 20, regulating the protection of persons who report regulatory infringements and the fight against corruption (hereinafter Law 2/2023).

Although Law 2/2023 has encouraged all Spanish companies with more than fifty (50) employees to have a mandatory reporting system, the ethical channel was already an indispensable and key tool for any Compliance System, as it is a requirement of article 31 bis 5.2 of the Spanish Criminal Code for “organization and management models”. Likewise, it is also an essential element of any technical standard in Compliance at national and international level. Moreover, there is even the ISO 37002:2021 standard on whistleblowing management systems.


In this sense, the ethical channel could be defined as the means by which organizations allow the channeling of queries or complaints related to suspicions of infringing behavior or malpractice within the same. The channel also makes it possible for the organization to be aware, while respecting anonymity, of irregularities, non-compliance, infractions, or violations of current legislation or the organization’s internal regulations (such as the Code of Ethics and other policies and protocols) by employees, or even by third parties related to the organization.

One of the main objectives of the ethical channel is to strengthen the culture of information and integrity in organizations, as a mechanism to prevent and detect threats to the public and private interest. In this way, it shows commitment to employees and stakeholders, generating trust and demonstrating that the issues and concerns that are communicated will be processed appropriately.

The ethical channel can have different formats, always complying with the requirements established in Law 2/2023 of February 20, for example:

  • A software created and enabled for such use. This is the most popular option.
  • A web form.
  • A postal address.
  • A telephone line.

In addition to the aforementioned modalities, the aforementioned Law 2/2023, of February 20, provides for different configurations, such as a face-to-face meeting at the request of the communicating party.

Beyond the legal obligation, the implementation of an ethical channel also means a competitive advantage before the internal or external public of the organization, since, broadly speaking, and among others:

  • Determines an image of transparency, in that it allows free and confidential communication between the lower and upper echelons of the organization, projecting the organization’s ability to adequately deal with conflicts that may arise.
  • Represents a sign of commitment, highlighting the ethical values of the organization and establishing effective mechanisms to avoid possible irregularities.
  • Reduces reputational and economic costs, since early detection of non-compliance considerably reduces its impact.
  • Maintains a solid and balanced growth in the organization.
  • Promotes a work environment based on respect and ethics.

In conclusion, the ethical channel is a vital element of prevention in organizations, since no one knows better the irregularities that are committed in them than those who are inside, so that having an instrument to communicate these facts is presented as a great benefit for any organization, which should strive to promote its use and carry out an appropriate management procedure.

Department of Compliance in Molins Defensa Penal.


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