This week sees the release of the annual WhistleB Whistleblowing System Customer Survey 2020. WhistleB has been carrying out this survey for five years monitoring trends in how our customers use their whistleblowing system and the outcomes that arise from having a secure, digital whistleblowing system in place.
What are some of the findings from this year's results?
- Anonymity and communication are seen as key factors for building trust in the whistleblower system.
Every year we ask customers what they see as the most important factors for garnering trust in the whistleblowing system. Overwhelmingly this year, the responses centred around communication about the whistleblowing process and anonymity in reporting and dialogue. Whistleblowing is stressful. It may be that the potential whistleblower is afraid of repercussions, that they are not entirely sure that something wrong is going on, or that they know those involved in the misconduct. Unless they feel safe, they won't take the step.
We therefore believe that organisational leaders need to keep the following points front-and-centre in setting up their whistleblowing systems.
- Anonymity: Be proactive in allowing whistleblowers to report anonymously and pledge to keep their identities anonymous throughout follow-up, case management, investigation and closing.
- Communication: Communicate very clearly that that people who dare to blow the whistle and the information they provide are greatly valued. Explain the process, how reports are treated seriously, the professionals that take care of reports and possible escalation processes.
- Security: Underpin both of the above points with IT security – a highly secure and easy-to-use whistleblowing system – and once again communicate to employees and other relevant stakeholders about the technical security embedded in the system and process.
- The number of whistleblower reports received is in line with what we have seen in the last two years, and reports bring in valuable information.
The total number of reports received by organisations is in line with the higher numbers seen over the last two years of the WhistleB Whistleblowing System Customer Survey. This reflects that attitudes remain more positive towards whistleblowing and that more customers have their systems open to external stakeholders.
Further, up to 60% of reports led to further action and investigation. This would indicate that the reports received through the whistleblower system provide valuable information that enables leaders to act on misconduct sooner rather than later. This result, which is a marked increase on last year, also correlates with WhistleB's own recent experience of companies asking more questions about case handling and investigation services. We believe this may have some connection with the passing of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive.
- New laws may be precipitating a more structured approach to whistleblowing report management.
Following on from the previous point, one of the most important events of the last year in the world of whistleblowing was the passing of the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. Even though the Directive has yet to become law in each of the EU member countries, the responses to this year's survey indicate that it may already be having an effect on our customers. Answers related to whether companies open up their whistleblowing systems to external groups (an increase this year), and the number of reports leading to dialogue (also on the rise) point in this direction.
The requirements of the new Directive and its obligations regarding the nature of the reporting channel to be provided are prompting companies to re-assess how they set-up and use their whistleblower system. The good news for WhistleB's customers is that they already have a system that helps them to comply with the forthcoming new law.
This article provides just a snapshot of the insight gained from the WhistleB Whistleblowing System Customer Survey. If you would like to find out more, the resulting report, "Communication and anonymity – key components for a trusted whistleblowing system" is available for you to download here.
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