A Real-Life SpeakUp® case about reporting misconduct
Employees’ concerns for their personal wellbeing create barriers for reporting misconduct. This organisation goes one step beyond anonymity to protect their reporting employees.
Harald is an admin worker at the finance department of the Turkish division of a multinational industrial firm. The firm’s headquarters is located in Germany. Harald has worked at the company for many years and has become quite an expert in his line of work. He recognizes transactions very quickly and is able to identify new, regular or different transactions. He is also good friends with colleagues from other departments who keep him updated on how their departments are faring.
At a certain point Harald noticed that, although some of the transactions looked ordinary, they did not correspond with information his colleagues had given him. After he had looked more closely at these transactions, Harald discovered further inconsistencies. These pointed to certain individuals higher up in the organisation. When he heard remarks from colleagues in other departments about how these people had changed their spending habits, Harald felt that he should report his concerns. The sensitivity of his concerns and a serious threat of retaliation made that he was very reluctant to do so. However, the fact that he was able to make an anonymous report directly to headquarters helped him reach his decision to just go ahead and ‘blow the whistle’.
“The fact that he was able to make an anonymous report directly to headquarters helped him reach his decision.”
The headquarters of the organisation decided to investigate the case. Extreme caution was taken not to tip off any local employees who might be involved. Headquarters became increasingly convinced that this could be a serious case and just the tip of the iceberg, following several interactions with Harald through the SpeakUp System. In order to manage a case this way, the company needed to be able to communicate with the anonymous employee to get sufficient information that would justify this kind of investigation. This is where SpeakUp by People Intouch proved to be useful. An internal audit team was sent to Turkey to investigate the case. The internal audit schedule was altered to make it look like a regular audit. The discovery of the first incriminating facts gave an even firmer basis for further, more in-depth investigations.
Headquarters later informed Harald that the audit team had gathered sufficient evidence and that it would remove any references from its records alluding to the fact that the case had been prompted by a whistleblower report.
“Any reference alluding that the case was prompted by a whistleblower report was removed from the record.”
This is the ultimate protection for any whistleblower. Not only could Harald remain anonymous, but even the fact that a whistleblower was ever involved had been erased. In our view, this company fully understood what misconduct reporting is all about. Namely: solving and correcting the problem instead of focusing on the whistleblower.