Internal Speak Up Channel vs. External Speak Up Hotline: Navigating the Choice

In the landscape of modern organisations, promoting transparency and encouraging employees to voice concerns has become paramount. Enter the debate between using an internal speak up channel or an external speak up hotline as the preferred mechanism for employees to report issues. Both options aim to create a culture of accountability and open communication, but they bring distinct advantages to the table. This article delves into the comparison between these two approaches, shedding light on their respective merits and considerations.

Internal Speak Up Channel: Building Trust from Within

The Case for Internal Speak Up:

Internal speak up channels, often managed by the organisation itself, offer several compelling benefits. One of the key advantages is fostering a sense of community and loyalty among employees. By providing a platform where concerns are addressed internally, organisations demonstrate their commitment to addressing issues within their own ranks. This approach can lead to increased employee satisfaction and a sense of belonging.

Moreover, internal channels allow organisations to maintain control over the process. The company can dictate the procedures, ensuring confidentiality and reducing the risk of sensitive information leakage. This control extends to the management of outcomes, enabling organisations to tailor responses to their unique circumstances.


However, internal speak up channels come with considerations. Concerns may arise about conflicts of interest or bias when issues involve high-ranking individuals. Employees may be hesitant to report sensitive matters internally if they believe it could lead to repercussions. Additionally, the internal approach may lack the neutrality and objectivity that some employees seek.

External Speak Up Hotline: Anonymity and Independence

The Case for External Speak Up Hotline:

External speak up hotlines, managed by third-party entities, provide an alternative that offers distinct advantages. Anonymity is a cornerstone of this approach. Employees can report concerns without revealing their identity to the organisation, alleviating fears of retaliation and ensuring that employees feel safe speaking up.

Independence is another major draw of external hotlines. Third-party management brings an unbiased perspective to investigations, helping ensure that resolutions are fair and objective. This objectivity can help organisations avoid internal politics and conflicts of interest.


However, external hotlines may also have drawbacks. Some organisations might hesitate to relinquish control over the reporting and investigation process. There may be concerns about the third party’s familiarity with the organisation’s context, leading to misunderstandings or incomplete assessments.

Navigating the Choice: Balancing Factors

The choice between an internal speak up channel and an external speak up hotline depends on a range of factors. Organisational culture, the nature of the concerns typically reported, and the level of trust employees have in internal systems all play a role.

Finding Middle Ground:

Some organisations opt for a hybrid approach, offering both internal and external options. This recognises the need for employees to have a choice based on their comfort level and the nature of their concerns.

Prioritising Culture:

Ultimately, the choice must align with the organisation’s values and goals. Internal channels may be suitable for fostering a close-knit community and building trust from within. On the other hand, external hotlines offer a layer of protection and independence that can attract employees who value anonymity and objectivity.

In the end, both options contribute to an organisation’s commitment to creating an ethical, transparent, and accountable environment. By thoughtfully considering the pros and cons of each approach, organisations can choose the path that best suits their unique context and aspirations.

Your reputation is everything. Do you have an integrity partner to help you make the right decisions? We can help.

About Darren Murphy

Darren Murphy’s expertise spans his 25-year career in law enforcement as a detective in the Fraud Squad with the NSW Police Force and within the corporate sector. Across his career, Darren has managed hundreds of complex and sensitive whistleblower investigations, including transforming a traditional whistleblower hotline into a full-service Speak Up Hotline at one of Australia’s largest financial institutions. From internal and external fraud, bribery, corruption and employee misconduct, Darren is an industry leader in integrity and conduct risks. Darren is passionate about protecting an organisation’s reputation, people and bottom line, and looks to help senior executives implement a proactive approach to how they manager their fraud, corruption and integrity risks.

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