When it comes to encouraging internal whistleblowers, there are two main barriers to coming forward, reports Jeb White, CEO, Taxpayers Against Fraud. First, is the belief that their concerns won’t be heard. Put another way: why bother. The second is the fear that by sticking their necks out they risk getting their heads chopped off. Their careers could be ended.
Even for those who do come forward, there is always the challenge of keeping their trust so that they do not then go outside the organization to the press or regulators.
To solve these challenges he recommends embracing communication and transparency. To the extent that you can, keep whistleblowers in the loop. Let them know that the investigation is proceeding. Embrace the lesson from food delivery apps that let you know that your pizza is in the oven. Let the whistleblower know that the investigation is ongoing and active. And, to the extent you can, let them know what the final disposition was.
If the organization does not find wrongdoing, he recommends sharing with the employee the broader context as to why what he or she saw was legal and proper. Perhaps explain the laws involved. That will help them both understand the organization’s decision and stay engaged.
If the organization does find wrongdoing, Jeb is a strong advocate for sharing the lesson internally. It will help demonstrate that the organization takes wrongdoing seriously.
It also helps mitigate the risk of a dysfunctional culture, in which the words in the code of ethics are nothing more than words, employees are afraid to speak up, and lines of communication are shut down.
Listen in to learn more about how you can improve your own internal whistleblowing efforts.