Why internal whistleblowing is superior
Whistleblowing comes in many shapes and forms and is often seen as devastating for the organisation to which the allegations are directed. One amongst many examples is the recent Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. Many times, this includes the whistleblower talking to the media. In this article, we will explore why internal whistleblowing is superior to external such and why it’s essential for every organisation to enable their employees to report internally. Although we cover the differences between internal and external whistleblowing in other articles here is a brief overview of the differences. Internal whistleblowing is when an employee reports errors, corruption or malpractice within the organisation, i.e. internally. The employee uses the organisation’s own whistleblowing solution to highlight the issue. External whistleblowing is when a person blows the whistle externally instead of internally. This can be, for example, to the media, authorities or in social media. Common reasons why people choose external whistleblowing include that they have little faith in their own organisation, or because they have tried to blow the whistle internally without seeing any fundamental changes.
There are many reasons why internal whistleblowing is preferable. Many problems can be solved easily and smoothly internally within the organisation without involving external parties. This also means that the public and the media are often unaware of the situation, which in most cases is to the advantage of the organisation. Read our compilation of 3 times when internal whistleblowing could have made an enormous difference for the organisation.
When an employee of an organisation chooses to blow the whistle externally, it can have enormous consequences for the organisation, such as loss of income, lost investors and a greatly deteriorated public image, or brand negativity. An example of this is the scandal within Volkswagen a few years ago, which we also list in the article linked above. You can read more about this in the article 14.7 Billion Reasons Why Volkswagen Should Have Welcome Whistleblowers from Forbes. With the results in hand, it is effortless to understand why it is worth offering a good internal whistleblowing function that the employees actually want to use and that enables anonymous reporting.
How to make sure your internal whistleblower solution is good
1. Be sure to avoid misunderstandings for whistleblowing
Many people believe that whistleblowing is an action-packed process where the managers within the organisation will do their utmost to exact their revenge on the whistleblower. Most of the time, however, the truth does not look like that.
It is therefore a good idea to train your employees on how the internal whistleblowing process works. Go through what happens when a report comes in, how feedback takes place and the like.
2. Communicate positively to encourage reporting
It is very effective to communicate positively regarding certain security locks within the organisation. When employees feel that whistleblowing is taken seriously and that they will not face retaliation, the chances that they dare to report issues in the workplace are much greater.
3. Answer frequently asked questions before they are asked
This is part of our first point, but it deserves its own point. It is a good idea to offer answers to common questions before employees within the organisation even think about asking them. Many times, employees can be unsure of these points but do not want to ask them since they do not want anyone to believe that they will report something.
The most common questions regarding internal whistleblowing are:
- Will my identity be protected?
- Am I protected from retaliation?
- Can I be transferred to another group, department or workplace if I blow the whistle?
- Will I get into trouble for reporting issues?
- Do I get any feedback or update on my whistleblower case?
It is therefore a good idea to try to answer questions. Either through training materials, group exercises, an FAQ section on the intranet or website, or simply answer them directly in your whistleblower policy.
To keep it brief, internal whistleblowing is superior in every way since it, amongst many other benefits, enables you to solve internal issues before they escalate and reach the media or the public. Here’s how to get started with implementing an internal whistleblower solution.
However, just having an internal solution will not get you far. If you continuously do not treat reports with respect and the seriousness they deserve, whistleblowers will eventually go externally instead. It is important to keep in mind that most, if not all, employees and whistleblowers want the best for their organisation. Let them help you.