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SpeakUp Success Model 5: Safe

Organisations frequently ask that we merge all our insights into one compact overview. While challenging, this is a request we would love to make an effort for. Hence, we came up with this first version of the SpeakUp Success Model. We started by gathering all the feedback, knowledge and best practices of the past 18 years in one huge mind map. We then organised all the information in eight main components of success. The purpose of the model is to create an all-embracing framework for an effective SpeakUp Programme. More importantly, we hope to inspire and encourage an alternative perspective on the topic of whistleblowing. The SpeakUp Success Model consists of the following components:


For our previous posts of the SpeakUp Success Model Series:

SpeakUp Success Model: Safe

Safety is often mistakenly reduced to confidentiality. In reality, an efficient SpeakUp Programme is safe for all parties, not just for the whistleblower. By all parties we mean the reporter, the accused, anyone else who might be involved, such as witnesses or the organisation, but also, society as a whole.

You can best protect the whistleblower by not making them, or their decision to speak up, the centre of attention. You should instead focus on the facts. Obviously this demands that you cultivate the correct mindset. Discuss and endorse misconduct reporting throughout the entire SpeakUp Programme. If people don’t see others or themselves as whistleblowers for reporting, then “blowing the whistle” can be perceived as a constructive, good deed.

We tend to perceive anonymity as a way to protect the reporter. While true, it is only part of the solution. The reporter should also be able to express themselves at their own will and in their native language. This allows them to control the conversation and the information they share. In addition, you should strive for an uninterrupted (anonymous) communication cycle. In fact, a continuous and effective communication helps protect all parties, including the accused. It enables asking critical questions that can shed light on the situation.

Of course, enhancing safety is impossible if your employees do not fully understand the reporting process. Professional follow-up procedures, solid data retention policies, clear communication of the value, as well as the consequences of an intentional misuse of SpeakUp are all essential in providing clarity.

Here are some practical tips on how to use your anonymous reporting tool in a safety-friendly way:

  • consider all the parties to be protected
  • clarify the process and consider the limitations of the protection offered
  • provide clarity around the system’s safety
  • classify any misuse of the SpeakUp tool as a serious breach of your Code of Conduct
  • aim to establish a continuous dialogue
  • ensure that the reporter is in control of the dialogue
  • prepare for confidential, safe and fact-finding follow-ups
  • assign case-handling to the right people
  • clearly define user access e.g. well-defined role matrix
  • filter anonymised content to the right level before sharing (need-to-know)
  • if using different intake methods, store all messages in a single database for efficient monitoring
  • make sure your system(s) and data storage are secure
  • whistleblower protection: seek to find supporting evidence as soon as possible so that you can focus on the facts
  • ultimate whistleblower protection: seek to find supporting evidence and erase the fact that someone blew the whistle in the first place


As you can see, having the right people in the right places is a defining factor of your programme’s success. The next element of our Success Model is Governance. Stay with us to find out how correct resource allocation, accountability and workflow can help you win.


Part 1: SpeakUp Culture

Part 2: Purpose-Focused

Part 4: Balanced Anonymity

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