How to implement a whistleblowing system – outsourcing to external parties
As you look at the best way to implement a whistleblowing system in your organisation, building a bespoke whistleblowing system from scratch may not get you up and running quickly, nor be the most secure option. Assessing the content of cases to manage them appropriately may require skills that you do not have in-house. And investigations are likely to go into realms where only specialist teams are trained.
In this fourth article in our series on how to implement a whistleblowing system, we focus on how external suppliers can help.
What does outsourcing whistleblowing case management involve?
It is when an external party or an ombudsman receives the whistleblower reports on behalf of your organisation. They categorise the cases, respond to the whistleblower, connect external expert resources to the team on a case-by-case basis, and so on.
Which kinds of companies usually provide these services?
It will depend on exactly which part of the whistleblowing process you hope to outsource. However, the kinds of companies that have the right skills and services include law firms, auditing firms, employment experts and specialist forensic investigation firms. These are the types of companies WhistleB has in its international network of partners via its partner programme.
What are the benefits of using a third party for whistleblowing case management?
Using external parties for whistleblowing case management can ensure a greater level of transparency. The third party reviews each case, is independent of internal politics, and can more easily escalate cases to the board if senior members of the management team are implicated, or if other pertinent information arises that requires the board’s attention.
Given the varied nature of whistleblowing cases, from environmental issues to employee matters or economic crime, another advantage is the breadth of expertise that can be called upon when using external suppliers. Further, external experts are specially trained to handle whistleblower reports appropriately and in compliance with relevant laws. They are thus able to support management teams in discussions, investigations and other follow-up, if needed.
In small and medium-sized companies, one benefit is that a third party is, in theory, more independent of the employees and managers of the company. For the employees, this creates credibility and trust that the whistleblower is more likely to remain anonymous.
Why internal management may nonetheless be the best option
Internal whistleblowing case management also has a number of clear advantages. An internal representative is better able to understand the context of any reports. They may have access to information from other areas of the business and can piece together the puzzle of events to give a clearer picture. For companies in the EU though, it is important to remember that it will soon be a legal requirement for all organisations with 50 employees or more to appoint an “impartial person or department” to follow up on whistleblower reports. The person appointed should have the kind of position which allows a certain amount of independence and autonomy.
Can using external parties be done securely?
Absolutely – provided you have a whistleblowing solution with the right security features, such as WhistleB. For example, if an external party is to receive whistleblower reports on behalf of a company, WhistleB’s system allows the company to add the external party as an approved user into the secure system, within just a few clicks. Once the external party has assessed the report and needs to designate it to the appropriate internal resource for follow-up, this happens within the same secure system. Alternatively, if an internal resource is to receive the report first, with a view to bringing in external expertise for case management, this also happens securely.
Via our Partnership Programme, WhistleB provides a secure, user-friendly, web-based platform and our partners provide expertise in processing and investigating cases. We have active partners all over Europe, and our mutual customers benefit from the expertise of two organisations, covering the receiving, processing and investigating of cases. An effective way to implement a whistleblowing system, quite simply!