What is an ombudsman and why are they an important component of creating both a more motivated workforce and a stronger ethical culture within an organization? In short, an "ombuds" or "ombudsman" acts as a neutral go-between to help facilitate informal and confidential communications up and down the chain of command. Housed separately from both the Compliance and Ethics department and the HR team, ombuds serve to promote specific values, such as fairness, equity and accountability and have no vested interest in the outcome of issues of which they are made aware. For some employees, who many not feel comfortable speaking with their supervisor, or others who want to discuss an issue without making a report, an ombuds can serve a needed purpose, providing necessary details about processes, reporting options and policies. 

Most important to note: An ombudsman does not supplant traditional corporate reporting structures. Rather, they supplement the available channels through which employees can raise concerns and learn more about options towards resolution, thereby reinforcing behavior expected within the organization and encouraging good citizenship. Employees that have multiple reporting structures and feel like their company cares about their well-being are more likely to act ethically, be more productive and remain longer with the company.







Ideas to Apply

To come

Research and Resources

Research Entry Points

International Ombuds Association Standards of Practice

Outlines the standards as they pertain to Independence, Neutrality and Impartiality, Confidentiality and Informality

International Ombuds Association Code of Ethics

The common set of professional ethical principles to which IOA members adhere in their organizational Ombudsman practice

Ombuds Programs: Creating a culture of trust rather than compliance [PDF]

Article in Corporate Secretary on the value of an ombuds program and its benefits to corporate culture

Blueprint for Success: Designing a proactive organizational ombuds program [PDF]

How to design an effective ombuds program for your organization.






Journal Articles


Newspapers and Magazines


Case Studies

to come