The Client: The Cooperative Group
The Co-operative Group is a UK consumers’ co-operative and the world’s largest consumer-owned business, comprising over 5.5 million members and over 120,000 employees. It operates across a large number of sectors including food, retail, travel, funerals, finance, pharmacies, property, insurance, farming and legal services.
- Find a new whistleblowing provider as the current one isn’t performing to a high enough standard
- Reduce theft of stock and associated goods
- Detailed and accurate reports over a variety of time scales were required to highlight whistleblowing incidents.
- The Group is committed to ensuring that all types of information are securely managed and controlled to effectively reduce the risk of loss, theft or unauthorised access.
- Any breach of data security policies are required to be reported immediately and channels of communication need to be fluid, reliable and secure.
Expolink worked closely alongside The Co-operative Group to help implement both the whistleblowing and data security hotlines. Each of the hotlines operates with its own telephone number and calls are answered by Expolink operators, acting on behalf of the organisation.
After their inaugural launch in October 2008, the Group re-launched both hotlines with a view to increasing employee awareness of the services available to them. Technical advancements now ensure sophisticated data capture facilities while maintaining the highest levels of security assurance.
Providing staff with the peace of mind to be able to call and report illegal, fraudulent and immoral practices without fear of losing their job is integral to the group’s commitment to social responsibility.
The Co-operative Group’s whistleblowing hotline service not only provides a mechanism for exposing systematic fraud, it also serves as a useful catalyst for capturing other corrupt activities such as misconduct and theft, which can have an equally debilitating effect on corporate performance and reputation.
“Some years ago we reviewed the whistleblowing service we had at that time and found it not fit for purpose, for a number of reasons including the ability to get meaningful information to enable clear reporting to our Risk Committee.
We did a review of all the UK providers and following quite an extensive exercise, found that Expolink were by far the best in the market place at that time. We have since carried out two benchmarking exercises and found them still to be ahead of the competition. So much so that we extended our service agreement to include a Data Security helpline with them, which also proved to be a seamless integration from an in house service.
They have a clear no-nonsense “can do” approach to our relationship. We have set it up that colleagues can report all incidents anonymously and get feedback 21 days after reporting to show transparency in our approach. We sample test a small number of callers, who have left their contact details with Expolink, to evaluate their experience of the service. The responses are overwhelmingly positive with no negative comments at all.
We, as an organisation, take whistleblowing very seriously and encourage colleagues to raise concerns they have. Being able to do this anonymously and to an independent organisation has really helped us embedding a culture of openness and integrity.”
Director of Operational Risk, The Cooperative Group