Internal whistleblowing systems – A best practice guide for developing a whistleblower system

Whistleblowing systems image
Whistleblowing systems image

What are whistleblowing systems?

Whistleblowing has become an increasingly popular term over the past decade, with numerous high-profile cases involving individuals who have exposed unethical or illegal practices within their organisations. Whistleblowers are often lauded for their courage and commitment to transparency, but they can also face significant personal and professional repercussions for speaking out.

To help mitigate these risks and encourage employees to report misconduct, many companies have chosen to implement a whistleblowing system. These systems provide a formal channel for employees to report suspected violations of company policies or laws without fear of retribution. In this article, we will explore the benefits and challenges of implementing a this system in your organisation, as well as best practices for ensuring its effectiveness.

ISO 37002 – International standard

ISO 37002 2021 is the international standard that provides guidelines for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving whistleblowing management systems. It offers a framework to organisations irrespective of their size or industry. It applies to public or private sector entities and equally to public companies. The standard encourages development of an effective internal whistleblowing system that defines key principles and encourages transparency, fairness, confidentiality and non-retaliation.

Organisations are encouraged to establish whistleblower policies, directives and procedures that support the implementation of whistleblower protection programs. These should include methods to receive reports and allow for reporting of concerns, steps for investigation and resolution, assurance mechanisms that protect individuals from retaliation as well as providing channels for seeking redress if retaliated against.

Through ISO 37002 compliance, you can demonstrate your commitment to fostering a culture of integrity by promoting a safe environment where employees feel confident in raising concerns without fear of victimization. As such it enhances stakeholder confidence while avoiding potential legal liabilities or impact on annual revenue arising from allegations of internal misconduct.

Importance of whistleblowing:

Whistleblowing is the act of reporting any wrongdoing in an organisation. In recent years, there has been a growing need for companies to implement whistleblower systems that allow employees to confidently report any misconduct anonymously and securely. These systems not only help organisations in maintaining an effective system to detect and address issues, they also create a culture of transparency and accountability.

In this article, we will delve into whistleblowing systems- what they are, how they work, and their importance in modern-day businesses. We will also discuss the challenges associated with implementing such systems and explore some best practices for effective and easy to use whistleblower programs. Whether you are an employee looking to report misconduct or a senior leader seeking to foster a culture of integrity, these systems can achieve both.

Role in corporate governance:

Whistleblowing is a crucial mechanism for maintaining transparency and accountability in both public and private sectors. Whistleblowers can be employees, customers, suppliers, or anyone who has access to confidential information about the activities of the organisation.

These systems are designed to provide a safe and secure platform for individuals to report misconduct without fear. These systems help to identify potential risks and prevent fraudulent activities that could harm their reputation, finances, or legal compliance. Effective whistleblowing policy, including mechanisms for receiving and handling whistleblower reports can uphold legal obligations.

Types of whistleblowing:

In today’s world, where businesses and organisations are under constant scrutiny from stakeholders, whistleblowing has become an increasingly important tool for exposing wrongdoing. Whistleblowing systems are put in place to provide individuals with a safe and confidential way to report any wrongdoings they might come across in their workplace.

With the rise of social media and the ever-growing awareness of corporate social responsibility, companies now face greater reputational risk than ever before. As such, many have adopted these systems as part of their governance framework to minimize potential harm by providing employees with a secure channel where they can raise concerns without fear.

Internal, external and anonymous

In today’s complex business environment, a culture of transparency and accountability is essential to maintain integrity. Whistleblowing systems are one such tool that can help detect and prevent work-related misconduct. These systems provide employees with a safe and confidential way to report any wrongdoing they observe, without fear.

The importance of whistleblowing has been highlighted in recent years by high-profile cases of corporate misconduct. From Enron to Volkswagen, these scandals have demonstrated the significant impact that wrongdoing can have on businesses and society as a whole. As such, many companies now recognize the value of these systems in promoting ethical conduct and preventing potential harm to employees and external stakeholders.

Designing effective whistleblower systems:

Whistleblowing is an act of disclosing illegal or immoral activities. It is a courageous and noble act that holds the wrongdoers accountable and protects the public interest. However, whistleblowers often face retaliation from their employers such as termination, demotion, or harassment which makes it difficult for them to come forward.

To create a safe and secure environment for whistleblowers, organisations provide anonymous reporting systems for potential whistleblowers to report violations without fear. The systems promote transparency, anonymity and accountability while protecting individuals who speak up against wrongdoing. The design of these systems begins with a look at an organisations operating context. That context can include any third party or stakeholder obligation, national laws and operational threats defined within your organisational risk management tool. 

An organisation’s design needs to take into account safe and effective processes to receive and address a whistleblowing report. Resourcing the system should also be a consideration.  Resourcing should provide a secure system such as a case management tool, to receive, store and disclose personal data. 

Internal audits are an additional level of scrutiny that can outline the effectiveness and number of reports received via pathways of reporting. This includes reporting channels such as telephone or email that are setup for receipt of a whistleblower’s first report and to provide an avenue for reporting concerns from retaliation therafter. The recipients of the information, including investigators, should also be skilled and alert to the signs of potential repurcussion or victim trauma. An additional telephone hotline to support staff can also be of benefit to mitigate welfare concerns.

Tips for organisations:

Whistleblowing systems have become an increasingly important topic in the world of business and politics. These systems allow individuals to report misconduct without fear. Whistleblowers play a crucial role in exposing corruption and wrongdoing, and their actions can lead to significant changes in organisations and even entire industries.

However, implementing and maintaining effective system is not always straightforward. Many struggle with creating a culture that encourages employees and stakeholders to speak up about misconduct, while also protecting those who do so. Additionally, there are legal considerations surrounding whistleblowing that must be taken into account, including protections for whistleblowers under various laws.

Cases of successful whistleblowing:

Whistleblowing is an essential mechanism for exposing wrongdoings and malpractices. However, many people are afraid to blow the whistle due to the fear of retaliation. Nonetheless, there are many cases of successful whistleblowing that demonstrate how it can be a powerful tool to hold wrongdoers accountable.

One example of successful whistleblowing is the case of Jeffrey Wigand, a former tobacco executive who exposed the industry’s manipulation of nicotine levels. His testimony led to significant legal action against major tobacco companies, resulting in a massive settlement worth billions of dollars. Another example is Sherron Watkins, who blew the whistle on Enron’s accounting fraud, leading to one of America’s largest corporate scandals.

In conclusion, successful whistleblowing has played an important role in exposing wrongdoing and holding corporations accountable for their actions. Whistleblowers often face many challenges and risks but are critical in bringing about change and promoting greater accountability.

Examples from different industries:

Whistleblowing systems are not just important for government or large corporations. They are equally essential in small businesses and non-profit organisations as well. For instance, a healthcare provider may need these systems to keep track of any misconduct by its staff members. Similarly, schools can use reporting mechanisms to ensure that students’ safety is not compromised by teachers or other school employees.

In the financial sector, these systems help spot frauds and other white-collar crimes before they escalate into larger issues. Large banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup have robust internal reporting mechanisms that allow their employees to report any suspicious activities without fear. In addition, companies like Enron and WorldCom were brought down due to a lack of whistleblower protection programs within their corporate structures.

Moreover, these systems become crucial in industries where safety is paramount such as aviation and transportation. Airlines often rely on flight attendants and pilots to report any suspicious behaviour onboard aircraft that could endanger passengers’ lives or property. Similarly, trucking companies have implemented hotlines for drivers to report unsafe driver behaviours or vehicle maintenance issues promptly.

The benefit of whistleblowing laws

Whistleblowing laws are an essential aspect of corporate governance and accountability. These laws protect employees who report wrongdoing within their organization from retribution, ensuring that they can speak up without fear of losing their jobs or being victimized in any way. The benefits of these laws are numerous, including promoting transparency and integrity as well as deterring fraud, corruption, and other forms of misconduct.

Whistleblowing systems help to create a culture of trust within organizations while also providing a mechanism for employees to express concerns about wrongdoing without fearing backlash. Through whistleblowing laws, individuals can share concerns with the relevant authorities without having to worry about retribution from their employers. As a result, whistleblowers become an important source of information for regulatory agencies which depend on whistleblowers to uncover fraudsters.

Moreover, whistleblowing laws have played a fundamental role in uncovering various scandals involving large corporations worldwide. Without these regulations in place, many cases would have gone unreported resulting in more harm than good. Whistleblower protection laws provide incentives for people who witness unlawful acts to come forward with information that could lead to prosecution or fines against the wrongdoers involved. Ultimately, these measures hold companies accountable for their actions while encouraging ethical behavior within them.

The benefits of whistleblower protection: 

Whistleblowing systems are crucial for entities to ensure that ethical and legal standards are upheld. When employees notice any wrongdoing, such as fraud, harassment, or safety violations, they can report it through these systems. This allows the entity to investigate and address the issue before it becomes a bigger problem.

Moreover, these systems help create a culture of transparency within an organisation. Employees feel safe reporting issues when they know there are clear procedures in place to protect them and prevent mismanagement. This also sends a message that misconduct will not be tolerated.

Finally, having a whistleblowing system can improve an entities reputation. When stakeholders see that the company takes ethics seriously and is willing to address any issues promptly and transparently, they are more likely to trust and utilise the reporting channels. In today’s world where consumers prioritise ethical practices in their purchasing decisions, this can be a significant advantage for businesses.

Importance of training:

Effective training of management is essential for the successful implementation and maintenance of a whistleblowing system. provides a free e-learning course and assurance aid tailored to management, assurance and subject matter experts.

Employee training is also essential. Training provides employees with information on anonymous ways to report unethical or illegal behaviour. Properly trained employees will be better equipped to understand the importance of whistleblowing, how to use the system, and what constitutes a reportable offense.

Training must also cover how reports are investigated, who has access to them, and how confidentiality is maintained throughout the process. In addition, employees need to know that they are protected from retribution if they make a report in good faith. A well-managed training program can instil confidence in employees about using these systems without fear of reprisal.

Finally, ongoing training ensures that employees remain up-to-date on changes in laws related to whistleblowing and reporting requirements. It also provides opportunities for continuous improvement of the system itself as feedback from users can be incorporated into future iterations. Effective training management ultimately helps create a culture where transparency and accountability are valued in the workplace.


In conclusion, implementing an effective whistleblowing system is crucial for any organisation. It not only helps to prevent misconduct but also creates a transparent and accountable culture within the workplace. An effective whistleblowing system should provide a safe platform for employees to anonymously report any wrongdoing without fear.

However, it is important to note that simply having a whistleblowing system in place is not enough. organisations must also ensure that they are actively promoting the use of the system and providing adequate training to employees on how to utilise it. Additionally, organisations should have clear policies in place on how reports will be handled and investigated.

Overall, investing time and resources into creating an effective whistleblowing system can pay off in the long run by helping organisations identify and address misconduct before it becomes a larger issue.

You may also like…