Tullow Oil

A whistleblowing case study

A whistleblowing case study from Tullow Oil: a leading independent oil and gas company founded in Tullow, Ireland.

The Company has interests in over 90 exploration and production licences across 16 countries, primarily focused on Africa and South America. Headquartered in the UK, Tullow Oil is a constituent of the FTSE 250.

Graham Brunton is the Group Ethics & Compliance Manager and here he talks about why Safecall is a useful addition to Tullow Oil’s already strong ethics and compliance framework.

Why choose Safecall?

Tullow Oil’s compliance framework developed in 2010 with the introduction of the UK Bribery Act. Ethics & Compliance is a top priority for the Company and, by the time I took up the Group E&C Manager role in 2015, there were already many effective procedures in place including the appointment of Safecall as our external whistleblower provider.

The Company has a group wide Code of Ethical Conduct which emphasises our focus on being an ethical organisation with an open culture in which people are comfortable to come forward and speak up about things that concern them. We encourage everyone who works for us to raise concerns either with their line manager or with the Ethics & Compliance team.

For the rare occasions when an employee feels they want to speak to someone independent of Tullow Oil or they wish to remain anonymous, we appointed Safecall as our external whistleblowing provider. In these scenarios, Safecall brings a real benefit to the Company in facilitating these communications. A caller can share their contact details confidentially with Safecall, who then act as an intermediary between Tullow and the whistleblower; this protects the identity of the whistleblower while allowing Tullow to gather further information. If the whistleblower has chosen total anonymity, that person can be confident their anonymity will remain intact throughout the whole Safecall process, something that could be challenging if handled internally.

The other benefit of Safecall is that this service runs in the background and requires little management time beyond our monthly planned engagement. Tullow Oil relies on Safecall to efficiently manage any calls that come through to them and I am the only person within the Company who receives the encrypted Safecall reports. I find the Team at Safecall very professional and they are able to support me with any follow-up action required. It really is a reliable, standalone service.

Safecall was initially appointed in 2010, however, in line with our internal procurement procedure we recently reviewed the contract. We evaluated the market and found Safecall to be the best fit for our organisation in terms of the quality of their call handlers and the content of the reports received. Having a dedicated contact in both client support and operations provides a seamless service and they really care about Tullow as a customer. As a result, we continued our engagement with Safecall.

When dealing with a Safecall report the outcome is not always made public. Safecall makes it easy to connect with anonymous callers to maintain their confidentiality. This allows us to keep them informed as much as possible especially if the outcome wouldn’t necessarily be obvious. This is key to the success of a hotline programme.

The outcome

We are confident using Safecall as our whistleblowing provider as it is accessible to all those who work for us; our employees, suppliers and business partners. The number of calls we receive through Safecall is generally in line with what we’d expect as an organisation of our size. The support that Safecall offers has proved valuable in giving our people the option to confidentially raise concerns. The data gathered feeds into our annual analysis of trends and helps us to operate more effectively.

Safecall has worked with us to provide local numbers in our main countries of operation with the local number connecting directly to Safecall in the UK. Having several different ways to raise a concern (telephone, email, web, letter) gives our global communities more choice in how they report and, although the majority of our people speak English, Safecall can support many different languages.

We have been encouraging our people to speak up – both internal and external – for many years, communicating this message companywide through our Code, Intranet and computer desktop imagery. We also run an annual e-learning programme which is a great reminder of the options available. As is best practice, we promote the external Speak Up line using the Safecall branding (rather than our own) which reinforces the message to our people to speak up through whichever channel they feel most comfortable.