The government and the business community have placed enormous emphasis on corporate governance in the last few years. So much so that the new companies act (2008) which came into being in May this year (and which replaces to old act of 1973) clearly stipulates in section 159 that “a public company and a state-owned company must … a) establish and maintain a system to receive disclosures … confidentially, and act on them; b) routinely publicize the availability of that system …”
According to Price Waterhouse Coopers 4th International Economic Crime Survey, which strongly advocates the use of Whistle Blowing type facilities, the following factors should be seriously considered when implementing corporate whistle blowing policy:
- “Safeguard employees who report misconduct against any form of retaliation – allow for anonymous report.
- Make certain employees report incidents outside their chain of command – avoiding their supervisor/department head/division leader, by using a helpline, email or mail box.
- Maintain confidentiality to the fullest extent possible.
- Ensure that any hotline/helpline is both toll-free and includes as many language translations as appropriate for a company with global operations.
- Establish working relationships and protocols for various departments within the organisation prior to issues surfacing; for example, Human Resources or Benefits to address personnel issues and Security or Risk Management for more serious issues such as suspected fraud.
- Include controls for targeting certain situations that may require immediate steps to prevent further risk or damage.
- Provide clear governance expectations about how matters will be reported to the ultimate governing authority, presumably the Board of Directors, or sub-committee.
- Formalize processes for recording and tracking reported issues and incidents.
- Communicate information about the reporting and investigation process, how it operates, what kinds of issues have arisen and how they were dealt with.
- Establish communication channels not only for reporting misconduct, but also for asking questions and receiving guidance
- Track trends that may appear in one business or across businesses, or at specific levels within the organisation.
- Assign appropriate people with both the requisite authority and experience to perform the investigation.
- Establish a company code of conduct that requires all leadership, senior management and employees to fully cooperate in any investigation into allegations of misconduct.
- Establish and consistently enforce a disciplinary policy. A program that doesn’t abide by its own rules, from the top down, will never work effectively.
- Train and periodically update all company employees about the Whistle Blowing program, disciplinary policy and the company code of conduct.”