An effective whistleblowing hotline procedure is an essential part of your corporate governance program. It should promote an open, honest and accountable culture amongst all employees where they can express their concerns without fear of victimisation or termination of employment. A system that encourages people to communicate and listen to each other makes up part of an effective risk management system.
Why a whistleblowing policy is essential for your corporate governance strategy
- It helps you identify risks that the company many not know about and to address wrong doing swiftly.
- Reminds and encourages workers to speak out if they have concerns.
- Highlights alternative routes if the individual feels they cannot speak up internally.
- Helps ensure compliance with the UK Bribery Act 2010 and Sarbanes Oxley.
- Shows the company has a no-tolerance attitude to malpractice and wrongdoing and a commitment to ethics and best practice.
- Informs future risk strategies and allows companies to take remedial action to wrongdoing.
Your whistleblowing policy must be consistent with other relevant policies and procedures (for example; contracts of employment, existing disciplinary codes, codes of conduct/ethics, rules on the provision and acceptance of gifts and hospitality, grievance and internal complaints procedures).
Corporate governance is a broad church and involves all departments and employees. The breadth of a corporate governance program will be reflected in the size of your business, the nature of your operations, the countries you supply and deal with and to an extent, the company’s mission – but the fundamental processes and considerations for best practice will be similar. Some organisations will have a whole department dealing with internal audit, compliance and ethics-related activity. Others may simply have only an ethics champion or it may fall under the remit of human resources. Having a whistleblowing hotline or ‘speak-up’ program in place affords protection and gives stakeholders and employees confidence in your commitment to good corporate governance and best practice.