A whistleblowing hotline allows employees and other stakeholders of an organisation to raise a concern around an individuals’ behaviour. Reports made via whistleblowing hotlines typically relate to professional misconduct. The types of behaviour reported via a whistleblowing hotline include;
Bribery and Corruption
Bullying and Harassment
Discrimination and Racism
Fraud and Theft
Health and Safety Breaches
Data Protection Breaches
People that witness unacceptable behaviour are more likely to raise their concerns via a whistleblowing hotline for two primary reasons;
They have confidence that their concern will be taken seriously
They have confidence that they will not suffer retaliation as a result of their report
The primary benefit to an organisation of implementing a whistleblowing hotline is enhanced discovery of professional misconduct. This provides an opportunity to resolve the reported behaviour.
This benefit is significant. By allowing an organisation to discover poor behaviour early the organisations is able to address that behaviour and reduce the negative effect of that behaviour. This will;
Prevent loss (cash or inventory)
Reduce employee attrition
Protect the reputation of the organisation
Healthier supplier relationships
Healthier client relationships
A good quality Whistleblowing Hotline, Whistleblowing Policy and Whistleblowing Management System also demonstrate to stakeholders including employees, suppliers, customers and investors that your organisation is well run, with good governance arrangements and works hard to maintain standards of conduct. Indeed the United Nations Principals for Responsible Investment (UN PRI) suggests that the presence of a good quality whistleblowing hotline is an effective bell-weather for the governance arrangements of the organisation.
An independent Whistleblowing Hotline is the cornerstone of effective whistleblowing arrangements within an organisation, but alone it is not enough. There are five elements to a truly effective whistleblowing management system;
In order to be effective the whistleblowing hotline and whistleblowing policy must be promoted within the organisation. This can be done both digitally, for example on a company intranet, or physically, for example with posters and cards.
The is where a good quality whistleblowing hotline can make all the difference. The quality of information received is vitally important, this is particularly true when dealing with anonymous reports as follow-up may be challenging. Your hotline provider should endeavour to provide you with as much relevant information as possible to facilitate effective assessment, investigation and outcomes.
Each case should be assessed to determine the appropriate actions.
Does the whistleblower need to be protected from retaliation?
Does evidence need to be protected?
Is there enough information on which to base an investigation?
What are the risks associated with this report?
Who is best placed to investigate this report?
Where an investigation is required it should be led by someone appropriately trained and independent from the matter concerned. They should set out a clear plan as to the actions they are going to take and why. All actions and decisions should be recorded. All of the associated material should be stored in a single place to allow for scrutiny if required.
Appropriate outcomes should be decided and actioned. These should be based on the account established from the investigation and free from conflicts of interest and bias. These might include;
Changes in the control environment
Do I need a whistleblowing hotline?
The value of whistleblowing hotlines, policies and management systems is increasingly being recognised by organisations, investors, regulators and legislators. Many organisations are now required to implement a whistleblowing hotline. It should not be forgotten however that there are significant business benefits to having a good quality whistleblowing hotline and there are a range of providers available who can implement a whistleblowing hotline for you for a fraction of the price or making your own arrangements. In this regard many whistleblowing hotline providers offer a better solution at a lower price.