In many organisations, preparations for the introduction of a whistleblowing channel are currently underway. At the same time, they are considering how to get the most out of it.
These four steps ensure that your organisation really benefits from the use of the channel, rather than it being an administrative expense.
1. Share information proactively
As part of your organisation's internal communication plan, make sure that employees - and, where appropriate, stakeholders - are informed about your whistleblowing channel. Ensure that statutory training on whistleblower protection is fully implemented and continuously available. It is a good idea to provide information on whistleblowing and reporting. Partner with us to provide a whistleblower support website for your use.
The aim is to make whistleblowing as easy as possible for employees by providing a number of ways to raise issues. While in most organisations talking to the line manager would be the preferred option, this is not always possible. It is therefore important to ensure that the staff can easily find the whistleblowing channel.
2. Review policies and procedures
Failure to comply with this point can have adverse consequences. First, make sure that ethical principles and policies are up to date. Second, make sure that investigation procedures and action plans are in place. As compliance and ethics teams may also work remotely, it is particularly important that investigation processes are robust and whistleblowing reports are responded to in a timely manner.
Other issues to consider:
- Should the process steps during an investigation be adapted?
- How will the interviews be conducted?
- Has any of the key people in the process been dismissed or made redundant, and who would then take over the responsibility?
- Can you still guarantee confidentiality?
If your organisation does not have clear procedures for the investigation, now is a good time to agree on them and put them into practice.
Take a look at our guide to implementing our First Whistle whistleblowing channel:
3. Review whistleblowing reports
Review whistleblowing reports in general on a regular basis. By booking time in your calendar to review whistleblowing reports at regular intervals, you can identify trends. The frequency of the review should be determined by how often the whistleblowing reports come in, e.g. once a year.
Some questions to consider:
- Has the number of reports increased or decreased compared to previous years?
- What risks have emerged and are there new risk areas identified?
- Are there blind spots in the organization related to risk assessment and training?
- Is there a need for training?
- Is a different approach to training needed?
4. Build trust
Proactive, clear and open communication helps to build trust both with your employees and with different stakeholders. By demonstrating that you are open, available to deal with reports when they come in and responding appropriately, you show employees and other stakeholders that their concerns are taken seriously and acted upon.
I am happy to tell you more about the possibilities of using the First Whistle whistleblowing channel and to answer your questions about whistleblowing. You can book the most convenient appointment for you directly from our calendar:
See you soon!
- Erika Heiskanen
Partner, whistleblowing expert