#Metoo has shown how attitudes can change when problems are brought to the surface. The board of directors of a company has an important role in ensuring the existence of sound values in its business, but its responsibility does not end there. It is important to provide credible channels for anonymous dialogue with employees and to understand the underlying causes of cultures of silence, says Gunilla Hadders, one of the founders of WhistleB, which assists corporate boards and company management teams by providing whistleblower services.
The board and management have good opportunities to ensure that important information continues to come in, quickly and safely, in order to be able to obtain details and act in cases of harassment and discrimination.
“Being a whistleblower is often not a good career move,” says Michaela Ahlberg, a specialist in ethics & compliance, and an adviser to WhistleB*. Many whistleblowers state that they have difficulty moving forward in their careers, despite doing good deeds for the company and for society. Fitting into the group and fear of reprisals leads to a culture of silence in many companies. This is understandable but does not benefit the business.
The tools are available, and a safe and effective channel that can be used to highlight and have an anonymous dialogue about misconduct can quickly be established. A recent study by WhistleB indicated that several companies are starting to see anonymous whistleblowing as a key issue. But there are also many boards that still do not have it on their agenda.
“Improved legislation regarding whistleblower protection gives boards an additional incentive to offer internal communication channels for addressing irregularities. Directors also need to ensure that such matters are properly and effectively investigated, as employee confidence in the handling of such cases is a key issue,” says Gunilla Hadders.
*Michaela Ahlberg is the former Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer at Telia Company.