Answers to the questions received during our webinar
On 31st March 2020, Viviane Joynes, Managing Director of EQS Group’s UK and Ireland subsidiary, hosted a webinar about designing an effective speak-up programme in Ireland. We were delighted to be joined 3 expert panellists: Stephanie Casey (SC), the Integrity at Work Programme Manager for Transparency International Ireland, Gráinne Madden (GM), founder of GMJ Associates and Clive Kelly (CK), a Director at the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland.
The topic of whistleblowing is becoming especially relevant in Ireland with the introduction of the EU Whistleblowing Directive which must be transposed by December 2021. It introduces a number of new provisions including a requirement that all organisations with over 50 employees have whistleblowing arrangements in place.
During the webinar, we had a fascinating discussion around the main aspects to consider when implementing a speak-up programme including: tone from the top, policies and procedures, speak-up facilities, communication and training and finally how to monitor and evaluate programmes.
We received a number of questions from participants that we weren’t able to answer during the webinar due to time constraints. We have presented them along with responses from our panellists here.
Monitoring and evaluation
CK: At this stage most firms in most sectors are using staff surveys. For me the most important things are what questions you ask and if you listen to the responses. There are often questions regarding the anonymity of the replies but leaving this to one side as its often a red herring, listening to the detailed comments is very important and using some skilled people at interpreting these comments and following up can be useful (independent if necessary). In the initial phases of rolling out staff surveys and also where you think there might issues around transparency or lack of trust, stating that answers will be independently reviewed might help engender trust initially.
GM: I would simply add that this is also important for other sectors like the transport sector, the health sector, the education sector? All have the capacity to create enormous harm.
GM: I’ve never seen a ratio in any research. Since this is so related to the culture of an organisation, I don’t think it would be possible to give a figure. A high number of reports could indicate an organisation that had lots of problems or it could indicate an organisation where people are highly sensitised to potential problems. A low number of reports could indicate a place with few issues, or it could indicate a place where people feel unsafe reporting. Personally, I find it surprising when senior managers tell me with delight that they’ve never had any disclosures in their organisation. Quite a lot of people seem to think zero is a good number in this situation. I don’t.
CK: I agree with Gráinne particularly the point/danger of misinterpreting (both positively/negatively) a low number of reports.
Thank you again to Stephanie, Gráinne and Clive for their insights into designing an effective speak up programme.