Responsible for receiving and responding to whistleblowing reports in an organisation?
Increasingly concerned that your whistleblower report handling will be found wanting?
You’re not alone. How you handle a whistleblowing report can have significant implications for both your organisation and your whistleblowers. It’s a growing realisation that is keeping executives up at night.
Help is at hand. During 2021, the International Standards Organisation (ISO) published a guidance document that will guide you through a structured approach to the receipt, assessment, handling and resolving of whistleblowing reports in your organisation.
As an independent ethics hotline provider, we have reviewed the ISO 37002:2021 Guidelines for Whistleblowing Management in terms of their potential value to our clients. These are the observations we’d like to share:
- The content of the guidance document is relevant regardless of the size or nature of your organisation.
- Its logical structure follows the ‘lifecycle’ of your whistleblowing management process.
- It is applicable to the process you follow regardless of whether a report has been received internally or via an independent ethics hotline.
- The plain language used makes the 30-page document easy to read and refer back to.
- The guidance provided centres on what you need to apply your mind to at each stage of your management system’s lifecycle, and at each stage in the handling of individual reports. It’s an excellent source of ‘thinking prompts’.
- These thinking prompts will help you follow a structured decision-making process. The approach aims to promote improved competence and consistency in the handling of reports.
- How you respond to the questions posed will still require careful thought – there is no blueprint that can be followed for every whistleblowing report.
- If you are developing or reviewing your whistleblowing policy and procedures, ISO 37002:2021 will prove a valuable reference resource. Internal audit, risk management, compliance and human resource professionals will find it particularly helpful, as will all responsible for facilitating agreement on how a given report should be handled.
- ISO 37002:2021 gives guidance that will support your compliance with prevailing whistleblowing laws and directives.
- For organisations with operations across borders, the overarching guidance of an international standard will be particularly welcome.
We think the greatest value of having the ISO 37002:2021 guidelines within easy reach will be the increased confidence with which executives and support specialists can approach the often-daunting task of handling whistleblowing reports.
The Guidelines can be purchased from the ISO store for your country. For example, for those in South Africa where Whistle Blowers (Pty) Ltd is based, ISO products should be purchased from the SABS ISO online store, for a cost of ZAR 2630 (approx. US$ 160 at the time of writing).
For more information about our independent, multi-channel, multilingual ethics hotline service visit our website at www.whistleblowing.co.za. Based in South Africa, our service is utilised by clients around the globe. Visit our Insights page for more valuable articles on the management of whistleblowing.