Welcoming Bird & Bird in Poland to the WhistleB Partnership Programme
WhistleB is delighted that the Polish office of the international law firm, Bird & Bird, has joined the WhistleB Partnership Programme. Whistleblower protection has become a hot topic in Poland thanks to the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive. As an active whistleblower system provider in Poland, WhistleB is excited about partnering with Bird & Bird, a law firm with a clear digital-centred strategy. WhistleB will support Bird & Bird in providing the firm’s clients with a robust technology solution to enable compliance with the new whistleblower laws.
“Bird & Bird is a leading advisor in the field of compliance, including the implementation of simple and effective solutions for whistleblowers. We needed a whistleblowing system provider that could help organisations implement a modern digital solution with uncompromising security and the utmost user-friendliness. WhistleB was the perfect match,” says Aleksandra Widziewicz, Of Counsel, Finance & Financial Regulation, Compliance Task Force Leader at Bird & Bird Poland.
WhistleB’s Jan Tadeusz Stappers LL.M., Senior Manager, Partnerships interviewed Bird & Bird about the market in Poland.
1. Tell us a little about Bird & Bird
Bird & Bird is an international law firm that specialises in helping businesses in sectors where technology plays a key role. The firm has over 1,350 lawyers around the world, advising clients based in 120 countries.
In Poland, we are based in Warsaw, from where our Polish team supports clients with their business needs, in particular in terms of technology and communications, cloud computing and IT outsourcing. We also advise on projects related to broad compliance matters.
2. How do you expect the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive and its national transposition to affect companies in Poland?
Currently, Poland has only a patchwork of regulations on whistleblower protection, with specific laws in place for various business sectors, largely publicly-listed companies and requirements on companies in the financial sector. This means that the transposition of the EU Directive will have a wide-reaching impact on the corporate world in Poland.
Specifically, the requirement for all companies with 50 employees or more to introduce internal whistleblowing channels will have all these companies looking for solutions and rushing to understand the details over the coming months.
Both Polish law and companies will need to address the prohibition on retaliation that the EU Directive stipulates. Further, it is important to keep in mind that data protection is inherently entwined with implementing a whistleblowing channel; organisations must ensure that personal data is safe, both regarding the whistleblower and other individuals concerned.
We see that many organisations, even some of the most prominent ones on the market, have been postponing the implementation of a whistleblowing solution. This may be due to negative historical connotations of whistleblowing, or insecurity about how to deal with whistleblowing cases. Based on my extensive professional experience, I urge organisations to start addressing this topic as soon as possible, as it is key to maximising support for the whistleblowing procedure, at all levels of the organisations. My expectation is that avoiding the topic will increasingly be seen as an act of negligence, both internally and externally.
3. When it comes to anti-corruption and/or corporate misconduct, what are the most significant issues that your clients are currently facing, or will face over the next few years?
Business is becoming ever more “fluid” – it is no longer conducted centrally, with the board overlooking the workspace. Instead, business takes place online, virtually, on the move, in continuously changing forms and formats. This means that traditional methods of exercising control are becoming less and less effective, especially when it comes to intangible aspects such as integrity management and company culture. Facilitating whistleblowing, and thus offering stakeholders the possibility to share their knowledge about (potential) wrongdoings internally, is a powerful way of demonstrating the board’s trust in the workforce and creating an ethical working environment. It encourages people to do the right thing and attracts individuals who value this approach in a business partner or employer.
4. How do you see that clients can benefit more broadly from complying with the new law?
The Directive has made it obligatory to address the topic of whistleblowing internally. I hope that its transposition into national law will be a brave step towards a more transparent, dynamic society. Poland is a very attractive, competitive market place, with huge potential for further international development. This is a great opportunity to attain higher business standards, which will eventually be beneficial not only to those that adapt, but for our society as a whole.
5. Why did you choose to partner with WhistleB specifically?
Providing our clients with a complex offer addressing all their needs is a key part of Bird & Bird’s strategy so that we can provide them with tailored, efficient solutions. Therefore, we decide to cooperate with new technology providers. It was important for us to complement our legal services with a partner that could provide a modern, digital whistleblowing platform.
There are three major competitive advantages to WhistleB’s solution. Firstly, it does not compromise on data security, with robust security features giving us confidence to offer the service to our clients. Secondly, the platform is particularly user-friendly, which clients in the Polish market demand. Last but not least, WhistleB’s offer is suited to the needs of large companies, as well as for medium and small enterprises.
WhistleB will participate in Bird & Bird’s event “Sygnalista w przedsiębiorstwie (The whistleblower in the organisation)”, which will be held on 17 June 2021.
If you have questions, about the WhistleB Partnership Programme, or whistleblowing in Poland, feel free to contact Jan Tadeusz Stappers LL.M or Aleksandra Widziewicz, Bird & Bird Poland, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel +48 601 23 61 23.
Jan Tadeusz Stappers, LL.M.
Senior Manager, Partnerships