We kicked off the first of four seminars on whistleblowing on Thursday, June 29. Hosted by EY and People Intouch, the seminar brought together a diverse group of attendees eager to learn more about the implications of the EU Whistleblowing Directive.
Did you miss the event, and are curious what the seminar offered? We’ve got you covered here with a recap, touching on the key messages from our speakers and the main takeaways from our guests. If you want full access to the seminar, simply fill out this form.
The expert panel made their arguments why the EU Whistleblowing Directive should be seen as a want from within the organisation, rather than an ultimatum delivered by the EU. Using a live poll, 37% of the attendees expressed valuing whistleblowing primarily because of its potential to contribute to a safer and more ethical work environment. Over 20% said that they appreciated even more the directive’s help in uncovering illegal activities or wrongdoing.
However, the legal complexity of the EU Whistleblowing Directive – brought on by the different requirements between Member States – means that in daily operations, organisations feel unsure of how to implement the rules properly. The panellists branded this as a missed opportunity and called for a reframing of the EU Whistleblowing Directive and leveraging of its power. According to the panellists, this power can be used to:
- Reinforce and strengthen organisational culture
- Demonstrate management’s commitment
- And boost employee engagement.
In an ideal situation, a person reporting an issue is hoping to highlight an instance or pattern of perceived wrongdoing. This does not mean that every report filed is based on allegations, or misconduct. Sometimes, a report might be based on miscommunication. When this happens, organisations can easily solve the report by being transparent.
However, more serious allegations of misconduct offer an opportunity for the organisation to improve thus elevating reports from mere information on breaches to transformative reports. By providing methods for anonymous dialogue with the reporter, organisations can foster a feeling of safety when reports are made. Ideally, by promoting a culture of trust and psychological safety, organisations can handle reports internally. By handling reports within the company, organisations can prevent reputational, material, and non-material damage.
The panellists also touched on the often-experienced gap in perceptions between board and employees as uncovered by EY’s 2022 Global Integrity Report. The divide is clear, with 47% of board members interviewed for the report believing that reporting a whistleblower case has become easier, whereas only 25% of employees agreeing this statement is true. These numbers are in accordance with a poll from People Intouch where respondents identified their two biggest challenges as encouraging employees to speak up and, on the other side of the coin, getting support from management.
Audience questions and experiences focused mainly on the thin line between speaking up and being branded a whistleblower, reiterating the need for a well-thought rubicon and triage process to protect both the reporter and the accused. Clear communication of roles and responsibilities within an organisation helps to ensure a prompt and conscientiousness handling of a report, in turn promoting further trust and minimising retaliation.
The seminar was moderated by Laila Berrich (HVG Law). Laila has a background in employment law, bringing her in regular contact with whistleblowing dilemmas.
Flying in from Ireland was Rabobank’s Will Nelson. Responsible for conducting complex fraud and financial crime investigations globally, Will came equipped with a corporate perspective of everyday practical whistleblowing challenges.
Evita Sips, former chief customer officer for People Intouch provided a unique market perspective of client’s whistleblowing needs. Her efforts while working with People Intouch on their SpeakUp platform were dedicated to keeping reporting simple – a challenging mission in the increasingly complex and legal jungle of the EU Whistleblowing Directive.
Closing the expert panel was Antje Meyer from EY, offering unparalleled expertise in the field of organisational transformation and whistleblower program implementation. Antje has worked for many of the largest organisations across Europe and has helped them react to and optimise their whistleblowing frameworks.