What are the current best practices and key challenges of operating internal and external whistleblowing systems, in particular, for multinational companies operating in countries with high levels of corruption and related risks? Do Transparency International chapters or other non-profit organisations provide external whistleblowing solutions, and what are the associated challenges?
1.Introduction: Why blowing the whistle matters?
2. Elements and challenges of good whistleblowing systems
3. Operating external whistleblowing systems: challenges and examples
Several international conventions as well as national laws regulate the protection of whistleblowers both in the public sector and increasingly in the private sector. In fact, whistleblowing systems are an important element of corporate governance. Many companies, both in developed and emerging economies, have adopted whistleblower systems, including hotlines and similar reporting tools. The main challenges in countries with high corruption risks however, relate to implementation in the local context, including ensuring that the system is accessible to all employees and suppliers as well as that reports are dealt with confidentially and effectively.
Some multinational companies have opted for hiring professional service firms and specialised companies that provide ready-made solutions with a global reach. Non-governmental and non-profit organisations have also increasingly played a role in providing a wide-range of whistleblower services, including, for example, TI Mauritius or Transparency International’s Advocacy and Legal Advice Centres (ALACs), adding credibility and local expertise. The main challenges in operating external systems seem to relate to the country’s legal environment and privacy laws. Some countries restrict the type of information that can be accepted, processed and stored by external providers, which could hamper the effective implementation of the whistleblowing programme.