As businesses strive for a more ethical culture and to improve the employee experience, whistleblower programs have become a crucial aspect of good corporate governance.
A robust and best-practice whistleblower program not only fosters transparency but also ensures that wrongdoing is quickly identified and promptly addressed. However, simply having a whistleblower program in place is not enough. To truly maximise its impact, organisations need to focus on a few key areas.
1️⃣ Whistleblower Policy: Does your organisation have a robust policy in place? An effective whistleblower policy needs to give thought to explaining how a protected disclosure will be dealt with by your organisation. Is your policy regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains aligned with changing regulations and industry best practices?
2️⃣ Program Setup: Depending on the size of your organisation, it can be a good idea to establish a dedicated committee to oversee your whistleblower or speak up program. For most organisations, this resides at the Board level. However, for larger organisations that are receiving decent volumes, consideration should be given to establishing an internal Speak Up or Whistleblower Committee that has representation at senior levels across key departments such as HR, Legal, Risk, and Finance. An effective Speak Up Committee provides the necessary oversight and guidance to your board and executive team to keep your program on track and to adhere to your legal requirements.
3️⃣ Training and Awareness: This is an often-overlooked initiative in most whistleblower and speak up programs – Delivering regular training sessions for employees, managers, and executives. Tailored training on whistleblowing and speaking up can help create a culture that encourages reporting and ensures everyone understands their roles and responsibilities. Both printed and digital collateral, such as posters, screensavers, mouse pads, etc can also be displayed across the organisation to promote the program and to keep it front of mind for all employees.
4️⃣ Reporting Channels: Offering multiple reporting channels, both internal and external, empowers employees to come forward without fear of retaliation. By adopting both internal and external reporting options, you empower your people to engage in the process how it suits them best, based on their individual situation. Engaging an experienced independent hotline provider can help strengthen and enhance your program as it provides access to experience, technology, and importantly, oversight to ensure nothing is swept under the rug. An independent hotline provider enhances confidentiality and trust across your organisation.
5️⃣ Reporting and Analysis: Regularly producing reports from your whistleblower program allows you to identify trends and areas that require attention. This data-driven approach enables continuous improvement and proactive action. This is a fast-growing area and one where our firm is leading the way with our visual dashboard reporting service.
Remember, a whistleblower program is only as effective as the effort put into its implementation and maintenance. By focusing on these key areas, organisations can build a best practice program that promotes integrity and safeguards against employee and supplier misconduct.
If you are curious to see how well your organisation fares in these key areas, I have created a comprehensive quiz that assesses your whistleblower program’s effectiveness. Take the “Whistleblower Program Scorecard” quiz at https://coreintegrity.scoreapp.com/ and uncover opportunities to enhance your program.
Together, let’s foster a culture of accountability and transparency!