Since the Corona virus started to spread across the world, the number of concerns raised by whistleblowers in Europe has risen. From January to May, Swedish-European provider of whistleblowing solutions, WhistleB, has noted an increase of as much as 40 per cent.
WhistleB estimates that on average just over two whistleblowing reports per 1,000 employees are generated during a normal year. In aggregate around 60 per cent of these lead to investigations and other actions. But in recent months the trend in the number of reports has looked very different.
“Through discussions with our customers we’ve seen a sharp increase in concerns reported in several European countries, from around 750 to 1,000. The majority of concerns relate to companies not adhering to government agency recommendations on remote working – that people should stay at home if they feel unwell. We are seeing that whistleblowers have a widespread fear of infection, harassment and of losing their jobs if they don’t obey orders. Reports can also be about companies not enabling customers to maintain physical distancing,” says Gunilla Hadders, one of the co-founders of WhistleB.
The purpose of a whistleblowing system is to enable companies to prevent and manage misconduct, such as bribery, corruption, sexual harassment, and health and safety risks for customers and employees. Under new EU laws that come into force in 2021, all companies with more than 50 employees are required to provide this kind of reporting channel.
“The majority of companies do not have a whistleblowing function today. Now they will be obliged to provide effective protection against incidents which otherwise could have serious consequences, both financial and reputational. Such systems enable boards and management teams to rapidly receive information that they can act upon, while employees avoid the risk of retaliation after reporting various types of improper behaviour. We have seen many examples of incidents that have been prevented and mitigated thanks to whistleblowers,” says Karin Henriksson, the other co-founder of WhistleB.
“It is understandable that people feel scared dealing with these sensitive areas,” she continues. “So, the most important element of this type of service is that the user feels safe using it and can remain anonymous. It can often involve issues that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere near.”
To help companies that now face the challenge of implementing a whistleblowing system ahead of the EU directive, WhistleB has written a handbook. The handbook aims to help management teams and boards to avoid the most common pitfalls and support them during the process.
WhistleB has been in operation since 2011 and is a Swedish company specialised in digital whistleblowing services. The company is part of the global compliance company, Navex Global, and has almost 500 customers, predominantly in Europe, that use the service worldwide.
For further information:
Gunilla Hadders, co-founder, WhistleB Whistleblowing Centre
Tel: +46 70 214 88 73
Karin Henriksson, co-founder, WhistleB Whistleblowing Centre
Tel: +46 70 444 32 16