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Putting whistleblowing under the spotlight
ACCOUNTANCY firm PwC is encouraging businesses to put their whistleblowing strategies under the spotlight following recent changes to UK legislation.
Striking a Balance has been compiled by the firm’s whistleblowing experts and comes in the wake of recent high profile cases. The guidelines challenge firms to consider if their policies really offer enough protection to those that do speak out.
Asam Malik, director at PwC Newcastle, believed devising and implementing a robust whistleblowing strategy has become even more of a top business priority.
He said: “We have seen a number of high profile whistleblowing cases in recent weeks that are really making companies sit up and take stock of existing policies, and assess if they are adequate under the recent changes brought about by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act.
“Through our own research we found that many of the organisations we surveyed received fewer than 100 whistleblowing reports a year, which is not as many as people may think. This could be down to employees not needing to raise an issue, simply being unaware of company policy, or worse still, being in fear of retribution.”
The paper highlights the important distinction between confidentiality and anonymity. A whistleblower can be known to the organisation but have their identity protected; they can choose not to identify themselves – or they can request that their identity should be ‘open’.
Asam Malik at PwC Newcastle, said: "When we asked companies what format they used to keep employees abreast of whistleblowing arrangements we found that the majority, 85.6 per cent, used a Code of Conduct or policy manual.
"The reality though is that in an ever evolving digital age there are multiple channels to speak up. Engaging employees and gaining their trust in the whistleblowing process is critical in order to avoid potentially damaging repercussions if the company’s whistleblowing procedures are not used correctly.”
Whilst many companies had already made transformations in their approach to whistleblowing, with the incoming new legislation she added, there was still much work to be done.
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