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  • Anita John and Geneve Lipan

The Power of Whistleblowing


Whistleblowing can be formally defined as making a disclosure in the public interest. Businesses will often use terms such as “raising concerns” and “speaking up” in their policies as part of the whistleblowing responsibility.

Unfortunately, speaking up has frequently been dressed as a negative action and a social taboo and we often hear statements in society and popular culture such as “Snitches get stitches”, “Tattletale” and “Narc”. Those labels reinforce the stigma and the challenges we face with normalising whistleblowing as well as protecting those who speak up.

In this article we will discuss the benefits and importance of whistleblowing, and how your business can foster a safe environment for employees to speak up.

1. Why whistleblowing matters

Whistleblowing is an important part to maintaining information security within your business. Very often, the weak point in a company’s systems is only apparent to the human eye. If we do not encourage staff to speak up and train them on what misconduct looks like, we may never see the threat coming until it is too late.

The Key Messages to consider in terms of Whistleblowing: Early Detection Saves the Day: Fraudulent activities can begin as minor irregularities but quickly snowball into significant financial losses if left unaddressed. Whistleblowers often serve as the early warning system, providing insights and evidence that enable timely intervention, potentially preventing major disasters. Fostering Accountability from Within: Nurturing a culture of internal accountability is key. When employees feel empowered to report unethical behaviour, they're more likely to uphold the company's policies and standards, knowing that misconduct won't be tolerated. Legally and Ethically Sound: Whistleblowing isn't just a matter of ethics; it's also a legal obligation. Many regions have enacted whistleblower protection laws to shield those who expose fraud or misconduct from retaliation. Complying with these laws isn't just the right thing to do; it's a business and legal necessity. Safeguarding Reputation: The fallout from fraudulent activity isn't limited to financial losses. It can tarnish an organisation's reputation, erode trust, and have far-reaching consequences for customers, investors, and stakeholders. Whistleblowing can be the shield that prevents such damage by uncovering and addressing issues promptly.


2. Creating a positive whistleblowing culture

This quote describes exactly why we need to create a whistleblowing culture. The human desire for comfort can sometimes outweigh our desire to do what is right. And by creating the right environment and culture, the choice becomes an easy one to do the right thing.

Clear Reporting Channels: To encourage whistleblowing, organisations should establish clear and easily accessible reporting channels. Employees need to know where to turn when they suspect fraud, and they must feel that their confidentiality is protected. Knowledge is Power: Educating employees about the importance of whistleblowing, the legal protections available, and the reporting process is crucial. Training programs can empower employees to act when they witness wrongdoing. Zero Tolerance for Retaliation: Effective anti-retaliation policies are a must. They should explicitly prohibit any form of retaliation against whistleblowers and may even offer anonymous reporting options to ensure that employees feel safe when coming forward. Swift and Fair Investigations: Taking reports seriously and conducting impartial investigations is vital for maintaining trust. Communicating the investigation results back to whistleblowers demonstrates a commitment to transparency. Recognition and Appreciation: Consider implementing reward programs to motivate employees to report misconduct. Publicly acknowledging the contributions of whistleblowers reinforces the organisation's commitment to integrity.

In conclusion we truly believe that these programs need to be driven from the top but can only be successful if all staff are educated and buy into them without any fear of the negative consequences.

We encourage all companies to truly understand the implications of not having strong anti-fraud programs with whistleblowing mechanisms in place and the damage it could lead to. If those companies can also understand the positive implications of having a successful program in place and how it could protect the company and enhance its reputation, then whistleblowing will become successful throughout the private and public environments.

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