Being a whistleblower is a tough decision, especially if your organization doesn’t want to listen and it is not interested in compliance (yes, it is still the case, sadly); you may be ostracized and being retaliated, therefore, it is a decision you need to take very carefully.
If you decide to go this path, you should be aware there are some indicators which may help you assessing the seriousness of your organization toward compliance
You’re an insider so, eventually, nobody knows it better than you
However, by my experience (just to mention some):
- Having dedicated channels, managed by professionals, “How a whistleblower hotline can protect your organization”
- Allowing anonymous whistleblowing. Now that also in Europe (see the Sapin II in France) anonymous whistleblowing is tolerated, companies are increasingly aware of the doubts, risks and uncertainty a whistleblower usually faces. Consequently, if you decide to stay anonymous, make sure you receive a reference number to be used as follow up. To make your allegations immediately credible (the company cannot get back to you for further information as you’re anonymous) try to be as detailed as possible.
- An internal investigation is set reasonably after the allegations. The relevant line manager and the HR, legal and accounting departments should be involved as well. Do not worry if you don’t “see” such investigation; at the very beginning it will be mainly focused on document verification. If you disclosed your identity, you are likely to be heard.
What are the ‘red flags’?
An organization can be compliant only if the top management wants to. Unfortunately whistleblowers, in some cases, are still perceived as the problem.
- No interaction with the WB hotline; if the organization is gathering confidential information by means of an answering machine, there is probably something wrong.
- You are being retaliated. You got excluded from projects you were carrying on, you are required to perform different tasks than usual (more junior or less qualified),
- In other cases retaliation is more subtle; your employment contract doesn’t get renewed or even terminated.
What to do then?
Once you decide to be a whistleblower, there is no turning back point. If you are suffering from retaliation you should consider bringing the matter to the relevant authorities since, in many countries, employment laws protect employees (but also external consultants or advisors) who report alleged misconducts.
Regardless what YOU decide, please evaluate YOUR situation according to YOUR needs, also consulting your attorney.