The Client: Centrica
Centrica is a top 30 FTSE 100 company. Their vision is to be the leading integrated energy company in their chosen markets. Centrica operate predominately in the UK and North America.
Expolink provides support to Centrica’s 33,226 UK employees and 327 from their European businesses.
The type of risks Centrica face in the challenging markets in which they operate include;
- Brand and reputation
- Regulation and legislation
- Human rights and working practices
- Employee relations
- Conflicts of interest
- Supply chain management
Centrica are determined to maintain a culture of transparency and vigilance in everything that they do. Centrica wanted a measure in place to ensure that Centrica operates according to their business principles and values. Centrica also needed a tool in place whereby it can be used globally as they operate in countries across the world.
Centrica encourage their employees to openly share their ideas and opinions within the organisation. However, they recognise that there may be some circumstances where it might not be appropriate to raise their concerns with their line manager. Therefore they needed to implement a 24/7 independent hotline that their employees could use to raise their concerns.
Through implementing the whistleblowing hotline, Centrica ultimately wanted to strengthen their stance on being the leading ethical business in their industry.
By introducing an independently monitored and robust system for managing concerns, Centrica primarily wanted employees to feel encouraged and enabled to ‘speak up’. They also hoped the hotline would streamline and improve transparency of the information they receive. This would enable them to drive improvements throughout the business.
Learning from Management Reporting
Centrica required a break-down of the number and nature of contacts received through the hotline, which are then categorised into different issue areas, to provide better clarity on the issues faced by the business. This is received in the form of a regular monthly reports, they also provide confirmation of the calls received or where feedback has been given to anonymous callers, as well as details of callers who contacted the helpline, but for various reasons opted not to go ahead with making a report.
How Centrica and Expolink Worked Together to Implement the Service
Centrica first approached Expolink in 2006 and between then and the launch of the helpline in March 2007, they worked closely with one of Expolink’s Sales Executives to produce an implementation plan. Expolink provided Centrica with detailed information, such as their information security and business continuity arrangements to ensure all security requisites were met.
Communicating the Hotline Throughout Centrica
In line with the ‘Speak Up’ Whistleblowing Code of Practice, Centrica continues to promote the whistleblowing hotline and communicate their policy on ‘speaking up’ to all employees through various internal communication channels. The arrival of the UK Bribery Act was also used to underline the importance of the helpline.
What Centrica Have Learnt From the Hotline
- Improvements made in to health, safety and security processes.
- The hotline ensures that Centrica are better equipped to fulfil a best practice approach to maintaining an ethical workplace.
- The information received through the hotline also enables the client to streamline reporting of issues and incorporate statistics in their Annual and Corporate Responsibility reporting.
Since its launch in 2007 to the present day, Expolink and Centrica have worked in partnership, sharing ideas and looking for new ways in which to continually advertise the helpline. An interesting collaboration is currently in the pipeline between the two parties, exploring additional reporting channels linked to the emergence of digital media as a preferred method of communication.
“Encouraging employees to share their opinions, concerns and ideas are central to the way we operate at Centrica. However, we know that might not always be possible and the service from Expolink provides that important safety net.” - Fraser McLaren, Head of Business Risk, Centrica