In my experience, a wrongdoer doesn’t go unnoticed; colleagues and external parties working for/with him are likely to know there is something wrong. It is, therefore, crucial for any organization knowing about potential misconducts as soon as possible.
What is a good whistleblowing system?
A good whistleblowing system should have the following:
- Multiple reporting channels. Employees should be as comfortable as possible and reporting someone else’s behavior is never an easy task. Some people feel more comfortable talking, others writing. It is important, however, that trained personnel is in charge of dealing with these allegations. If your organization doesn’t have internal expertise, there are many serious companies out there performing WB services.
- Confidentiality. It is no secret that fear of retaliation is a sensitive topic and many whistleblowers seek to remain anonymous. Anonymous WB has not always been perceived positively in Europe (unlike the USA) but now this attitude is changing (e.g. the French Law Sapin II allows anonymous WB). That being said, organizations should encourage open reporting and, at the same time, they should prevent any form of retaliation. Notwithstanding the above, whistleblowers should be informed that certain information/findings might be disclosed to the management or to relevant authorities. Enterprises cannot guarantee confidentiality under all circumstances.
- Prohibit retaliation. Proportionate disciplinary measures should be taken in case of retaliation against whistleblowers. Employees will not report if they don’t feel protected.
- Provide follow up. Record keeping in essential, besides, both the whistleblower (assuming he/she is not anonymous) and the person accused should be duly informed about the outcome of the internal investigation.
- Be firm with abuses. WB can be fertile ground for revenge seekers and disciplinary actions have to deter this kind of abuse.
- Inform the Board and the CEO.