Is your organization one of the thousands of companies faced with implementing a whistle-blowing system over the next few years? If so, here are three tips for implementing an effective whistle-blowing system built on trust.
1. Get business-critical cases by promoting and providing easily accessible reporting channels that your employees trust.
Communicate the purpose of the whistle-blowing solution. Communication must be continuous to drive engagement and help individuals dare to blow the whistle. It involves communicating your organization’s core values and philosophy on how to do business according to your code of conduct.
First, set the right tone at the top to create trust. Second, a person most likely blows the whistle only once in their lifetime making this a very stressful situation for the whistle-blower.
Dedramatize the process of whistle-blowing in your communication and keep the reporting process simple. Remember that security matters—communicate your security solutions to build trust.
Reduce the fear of retaliation. Anonymous whistle-blower reporting is necessary if you want to receive business-critical information. Implementing truly anonymous channels increases the likelihood of your getting reports on serious misconduct and hence having the chance to minimize damage and risks. People need to trust that they will be protected against retaliation.
Make it easy to report. Remove any thresholds, such as when, where or from which device a whistle-blower can send a report. Allow them to report in any language, and do not make the process difficult with complex questionnaires. The whistle-blower communication channel should be as easy to use as possible.
2. Maintain trust by providing a system with high data security and engaging a professional team to manage reports with integrity.
Assign a professional team to receive reports. Your team should be made up of professionals: individuals with high integrity and the skills to manage very sensitive cases. As a general rule, keep the team tight but include different competences—a range of roles strengthens the integrity of the team.
Reply to every report. Treat all cases with the utmost of confidentiality to safeguard the identities of both the whistle-blower and the person accused. When responding, do so rapidly and respectfully. Response is a critical part of building trust in the whistle-blowing case management process. However, be very careful and restrictive with the information you provide—especially to an anonymous whistle-blower.
Ensure a trustworthy and secure processes. Security matters. You have a responsibility to protect an anonymous whistle-blower as well as the sensitive data received and investigated, so make sure your solution has the highest data security and is constantly monitored. Your processes should comply with national data protection laws and whistle-blowing regulations, this includes secure logs of the activities performed by case managers and managing the investigation securely to protect individuals involved. When a case is closed, direct and indirect data should be permanently removed for any organizations controlling data within the European Union.
3. Communicate your commitment and analyze your results.
Communicate to your customers your commitment to doing the right thing. Everything you do should contribute to your customers’ level of satisfaction and to attracting new customers. Once you have the whistle-blowing solution in place, let your customers know. Your customers are in the same position as you—they need to ensure their value chain works in a sustainable manner.
Communicate your commitment to a safe and sustainable workplace to attract the best talent. Engaged and responsible employees are your best assets for maintaining high customer satisfaction and sustainable profits. These employees will bring the best to your business—with or without mechanisms such as codes of conduct.
Analyze the results and ensure continuous monitoring by the board. Your whistle-blowing system can support you in gaining business-critical information about your organization. Make sure the board has full access to the system, reports received, how cases are managed and aggregated statistics. In addition to alerts on serious incidents that you need to manage immediately, your whistle-blowing system provides an efficient health check.
Gunilla Hadders is a founding partner of WhistleB, a NAVEX Global company in Stockholm, Sweden. © 2020 WhistleB. All rights reserved Reposted with permission of Lexology.