External Whistleblowing: How It Can Benefit Corporate Social Responsibility

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The Role of External Whistleblowing in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

External whistleblowing can be a powerful tool for promoting corporate social responsibility. By prioritising ethical behaviour and transparency, businesses can improve stakeholder trust and attract top talent.

Additionally, businesses that are proactive about addressing unethical behaviour are more likely to avoid legal action and reputational damage.

In this article, we will summarise the four key benefits of external whistleblowing for CSR, as well as providing a list of the best features to look out for when investigating external whistleblowing providers.

The Four Key Benefits of External Whistleblowing within a CSR Context

External whistleblowing can have significant benefits for businesses, organisations and supply chains, particularly when it comes to promoting corporate social responsibility.

Here are some key advantages:

1. Identifying and addressing unethical behaviour:

External whistleblowing can help businesses identify and address unethical or illegal practices within their organisation or wider processes and suppliers.

This can ultimately lead to an improved perception of the organisations’ corporate social responsibility, a reduced risk of legal action, and increased stakeholder trust.

According to a study by the Ethics Resource Centre, organisations with effective whistleblowing programs are 10 times more likely to detect fraud than those without such programs[1].

By addressing unethical behaviour within the organisation and its supply chains, senior management can promote a culture of accountability and transparency that benefits all stakeholders, helping the organisation avoid costly lawsuits, fines, and reputational damage, all of which can ultimately hit the bottom line.

2. Improved operational efficiency improves perceptions of CSR:

Improving operational efficiency through the implementation of an external whistleblowing system can also help organisations improve their CSR too.

By identifying and addressing ethical problems early on, organisations can avoid costly mistakes, streamline their processes, and increase efficiency within the organisation.

This has obvious tangible production and efficiency effects for the organisation, but it also has intangible benefits for CSR too, because improved customer satisfaction feeds directly into perceptions of corporate social responsibility by both customers and internal stakeholders.

3. Increasing stakeholder trust:

External whistleblowing can also help businesses increase stakeholder trust.

By being proactive about addressing unethical behaviour, senior managers can demonstrate their commitment to ethical standards and values. This can help build trust with customers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders.

Additionally, by promoting a culture of transparency, companies can improve communication and collaboration with all stakeholders, and this leads to stronger relationships and better outcomes.

4. Attracting and retaining top talent:

Finally, external whistleblowing can help businesses attract and retain top talent.

According to a survey by Deloitte, 70% of millennials believe that companies should prioritise social responsibility[2].

By promoting a culture of accountability and transparency, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to these values and attract employees who share them.

Additionally, by being proactive about addressing unethical behaviour, businesses can create a positive work environment that fosters creativity, innovation, and growth.

All of the above is true, but arguably it leaves out the most important overall benefit of having an external whistleblowing system for CSR, and that is having an external whistblower hotline shows you care about your employees and their environment!

People want to work for an organisation that cares for its employees and the place they work.

In 2021, data from a survey of more than 9,000 UK workers showed 65% of job seekers prioritised work-life balance over pay and benefits[3]. It’s similar in the US: of 4,000 respondents to the FlexJobs 2022 Career Pulse Survey, 63% said they’d choose work-life balance over better pay[4].

An organisation that shows it cares about its staff well-being is already on track toward better corporate social responsibility and improved perceptions of being a ‘good place to work’.

Top Considerations when Looking to Implement an External Whistleblowing Service in the Workplace

To mitigate the risks arising from unethical behaviour, it is important for businesses to have a well-designed and well-communicated whistleblower reporting programme in place.

This programme should prioritise confidentiality, protection for whistleblowers, and clear reporting mechanisms.

An external whistleblower hotline and web-based reporting system achieves all these essentials.

  • Real people – empathetic call handlers experienced in handling sometimes difficult conversations and situations (beware: not all do)
  • Web-based systems – that are intuitive, modern, and easy to use
  • Triage system – enabling prioritisation of whistleblowing cases
  • 24/7/365 – availability day or night, all year round
  • Multiple languages – with interpreters always on hand
  • Global freephone numbers
  • Classification systems – that allow report managers to manage, update, and file whistleblowing reports
  • The best of these external whistleblowing management systems also enables updates to workplace investigations and investigator management
  • Whistleblowing case reporting – analysis and reports at your fingertips
  • Anonymised chat functions – that allow the whistle-blower to remain anonymous whilst simultaneously allowing the report manager to remain in contact

Additionally, businesses should provide training and support for employees to ensure they understand the importance of ethical behaviour and know how to report concerns.

  • Whistleblowing training for staff and supply chains
  • Whistleblowing training for report managers
  • Workplace investigation training for investigators
  • Interview training for investigators

Finally, collaborating with external stakeholders such as supply chain owners, NGOs or regulators can help businesses improve their reporting mechanisms and strengthen their reputation for transparency. Make sure you bring everybody onboard from the start.

About Safecall Ltd

Safecall is an outsourced whistleblowing hotline provider to businesses and organisations around the world.

For over 20 years we have been providing a specialist and independent service that helps to protect business and keep employees safe.

We have a people first ethos, with all our call handlers having first-hand experience of the issues reported. We pride ourselves on our style, which is conversational and empathic.  None of our calls are scripted and we are experts at taking high quality reports. 

Safecall operates from a UK call centre, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week all year round.  Serving businesses in the UK, Europe and over 150 countries around the globe, conversing in over 170 different languages.

We help businesses and organisations who want to tackle a variety of whistleblowing issues including potential racism, sexism, fraud, discrimination, bribery, health and safety violations, modern slavery, bullying, and violence in the workplace.  

We also offer highly skilled investigations training and bespoke support that utilises our expertise.

We are proud to be a Law Debenture company.  Law Debenture was founded in 1889 and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.  It is recognised globally for its expertise in longstanding investment trusts and is a leading provider of independent governance and transactional support services. Clients include large corporates, law firms, banks or funds, private equity, SMEs, hedge funds, start-ups, and private clients.

[1] “The State of Ethics & Compliance in the Workplace: A Study of U.S. Employees,” Ethics Resource Centre, 2011, https://www.ethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2011-ERC-State-of-Ethics-and-Compliance-Report.pdf

[2] “Deloitte Millennial Survey 2019,” Deloitte, 2019, https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html

[3] https://workforceinsights.randstad.com/hubfs/REBR%202021/Randstad-Employer-Brand-Research-Global-Report-2021.pdf

[4] https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/work-life-balance-or-better-pay-two-thirds-choose-balance

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