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On World Whistleblowers Day – remember wellbeing for whistleblowers

To mark World Whistleblowers Day – 23 June –  Protect partnered with Linklaters to host a free webinar for employers to highlight the importance of caring for staff who whistleblow, as we all know speaking up is not an easy thing to do.

Protect Chief Executive Liz Gardiner welcomed almost 100 delegates from FTSE 100 companies to high street household names, and said,  “Listening to whistleblowers is good for business. Workers are the eyes and ears of an organisation and most likely to be the first to identify risk of harm and wrongdoing.  A strong whistleblowing culture allows you to hear and act on their information.”

Delegates heard about the damaging affects whistleblowing can have on a person, especially if their concerns are handled badly, and whistleblowers are ignored, silenced and sidelined or dismissed which can lead to PSTD, and staff being signed off sick after raising concerns.

Protect Trustee Ravinder Passi shared his own experience of whistleblowing whilst working abroad in Japan, saying it is ‘one of the most stressful experiences you can go through’ and how it is ‘traumatic to go against the grain, betraying my colleagues and being ostracised, gas lit, ignored, falsely investigated.’ He went on to say as the most senior lawyer in his organisation he had his views challenged and endured ‘extreme retaliation with my house raided, and being followed in a foreign country.’

Imperative to create a safe environment ‘duty for employers create a safe environment for people raising concerns’ .

He added, “It is imperative to create a safe environment for people to raise concerns.”

Nicola Rabson, Head of Employment at Linklaters, said “It was important to create psychologically safe spaces to speak up.”

She went on to talk about how whistleblowing culture was ‘increasingly part of the boardroom agenda’ and ‘no longer a soft subject’,  adding it was critical to ‘sustainability and success’  for organisations and a cornerstone of good governance. ‘

Ethical proactive leadership was debated, with the message that inaction does not help. The Brewdog example was given where the CEO apologised to staff over a culture where staff where afraid to speak up – it was never was their intention to promote bad culture but they did not proactively dissuade bad culture.

Clive Robins, Senior Compliance Manager, Whistleblowing at Nationwide said “Employers have a duty of care to support whistleblower and to be aware of the impact of  Covid and working from home and the isolation, lack of social contact, and  compounded stress and anxieties on staff.”

Line Managers are a key part of the speak up process. They’re often the first person to hear about a concern, and be the primary point of contact when a team member experiences or suspects wrongdoing in the workplace and Protect members will receive a Top 10 Managers Guide to support them in their roles.

Protect also showcased our new Benchmark which covers governance, staff engagement and operations. There are new, additional pieces of data to help to guide you on your journey to gap identification and best practice.  The Benchmark has been revised in the light of international best practice and employer members’ feedback – it is a must have for all employers wanting to check if their arrangements are effective.

With thanks to Linklaters who kindly sponsored the webinar.

If you would like to discuss internal speak up arrangements, training or consultancy, please email business@protect-advice.org.uk