So far, in this three-part series, we discussed the various kinds of whistleblowing hotlines and the key components that comprise of a whistleblower hotline. In part three, we’ll discuss the four characteristics of a successful whistleblower hotline.
The four characteristics of successful whistleblowing hotlines
It is crucial to handle whistleblower cases with respect and professionalism, as these factors play a vital role in the overall success of whistleblowing hotlines. This importance cannot be overstated.
The EU Whistleblower Protection Directive establishes the basic criteria that every EU member state must adhere to when establishing procedures and hotlines for company whistleblowers. These whistleblowing hotlines should embody a set of key features to enhance their effectiveness, foster employee confidence, and safeguard whistleblowers against reprisals. It is crucial to handle whistleblower cases with respect and professionalism, as these factors play a vital role in the overall success of whistleblowing hotlines. This importance cannot be overstated.
Secure and anonymous
Whistleblowing hotline systems contain sensitive, personal and potentially criminal data. Everywhere in the world, this type of data is very strictly regulated, so keeping the data safe and identities untraceable has to be a priority consideration for any whistleblowing hotline system. Security needs to permeate the platform it runs on, data storage solutions, software applications, access rights, archiving and deleting and more.
Ensure your whistleblowing hotline provider has the highest security certifications and functionality across the system, that they regularly stress-check the system for security vulnerabilities, and that they follow security development closely and continuously, and keep your whistleblowing hotline software up to date.
Data protection laws have very real implications for whistleblowing hotline systems as they regulate how criminal and personal data is to be handled. However, data protection and whistleblower protection regulations vary from country to country, making compliance monitoring complex.
When selecting a whistleblowing hotline service, ensure it has regulatory compliance already embedded into the system to help you keep abreast of changing laws. As an investigative team, you want to be confident \ your whistleblowing hotline service helps you process and investigate cases without breaking the law.
If a whistleblower is considering using a whistleblowing hotline, they generally want to act in the best interests of the organization. They observe suspected misconduct, and they want to do something about it, but they may not want to be involved in whatever happens thereafter.
Often a whistleblower is a person who is very close to where the improper behavior is happening, so taking that step to make a report is often fraught with worry, as mentioned earlier. This is why your whistleblowing hotline needs to make taking the first step as simple as possible – otherwise, you risk not receiving the much-needed tips that enable you to act early.
One way to do this is to ensure the whistleblowing hotline is device neutral, i.e., that people can use a mobile phone or other device to make a report, removing the need to find a private space in the workplace. And while the whistleblowing hotline interface should be intuitive, users should also receive training that is linked to your code of conduct.
An integrated part of the business ethics work
Whistleblowing hotlines work best when positioned within the organization’s ethics work. While a hotline is not the sole weapon in an organization’s anti-corruption, anti-fraud or anti-discrimination fight, there’s no doubt that it is an effective preventive tool and an integral, reinforcing part in any organization’s efforts to become an ethical and transparent brand.
Doing so shows an organization’s stakeholders it is serious about both enforcing and following-up on its code of conduct, demonstrating those values, and promoting a culture of compliance and the highest business ethics. It also gives employees the opportunity to do their part and be accountable by reporting in good faith anything they suspect through a trusted whistleblowing hotline.
Which whistleblowing hotline service is right for you?
After reading this series, you now understand there are different types of whistleblowing hotlines, that a hotline should be more than a one-way channel for a person to report on suspected improper conduct, and the key factors for whistleblower hotline success. But how do you get started with selecting the right whistleblowing hotline system for you?
There are a couple of further questions to ask that will guide your selection. To whom do you want to (or are required to) make a whistleblowing service available: employees, customers, suppliers, others? How quickly do you want to be up and running? Is your organization likely to grow organically or through acquisition in the coming years? In which case, you need a scalable, flexible whistleblowing hotline service.
Ready to learn more about how NAVEX can support your internal reporting needs?