Implementing a whistleblowing program is an essential practice for promoting a transparent and ethical organizational culture. This guide offers valuable guidance and tips for companies wishing to establish an efficient whistleblowing system, encouraging employees to report unethical conduct in a safe manner.
Understanding the Importance of the Whistleblower Program
Before starting implementation, it is crucial that the leadership and management team understand the importance of a whistleblowing program. It should be seen as a preventative instrument, capable of identifying and correcting unethical behaviour before it causes significant damage to the organization.
Develop clear policies
Develop clear and comprehensive policies that outline the types of behavior considered irregular and explain the reporting process. Make sure that these policies are understandable to all employees, regardless of their hierarchical level.
Safe and accessible reporting channels
Establish a safe and accessible whistleblowing channel, guaranteeing the confidentiality of whistleblowers and their anonymity if desired by the whistleblower.
Stay away from easy and/or diversified offers, such as telephone lines, specific email boxes, online forms, or even modules in generic/multi-purpose applications with common technical support for other purposes, as these options may even, on a less careful reading, comply with the law, but there is no compliance and even less protection for the whistleblower, as it will be minimal ate best or completely non-existent.
If whistleblowers don’t feel respected, safe and protected in every way that the law provides, it will be much more difficult for them to make the report that could be so important to your organization – yes, your organization wants them to feel free and safe to report, so let’s hear it!
Training and awareness-raising
Promote regular training to make employees aware of the importance of the whistleblowing program and how to use it correctly. Highlight the benefits of an ethical culture and emphasize non-retaliation against whistleblowers.
Guarantee of Anonymity and Non-Retaliation
Assure whistleblowers that their identities will be protected and that they will not suffer retaliation. Convey the message that the company values integrity and will not tolerate any form of reprisal.
Quick and effective response
Develop a process for responding quickly and effectively to reports received. Promptness in investigating and resolving reported problems demonstrates the company’s commitment to promptly addressing any irregularities.
Maintain transparent communication throughout the whistleblowing process. Inform whistleblowers about the progress of investigations, without compromising confidentiality and/or anonymity, whenever possible.
Continuous Evaluation and Improvement
Establish a system for continuous evaluation of the program, actively seeking feedback from employees and identifying opportunities for improvement. Constantly adapting the program will ensure its effectiveness over time.
The efficient implementation of a whistleblowing program is a crucial step in building an ethical and transparent organizational culture. By following these guidelines and tips, companies can create an environment where employees feel encouraged to report wrongdoing, contributing to the integrity and long-term success of the organization.
PS: Remember to organize your implementation processes to meet the requirements of the other points of the General Regime for the Prevention of Corruption (see details in our article here: https://www.iblow.eu/new-normative-for-the-prevention-of-corruption/). Since the whistleblowing program is only one part of this macro-process.