Organisations need ‘to step up to speak up’

Encouraging employees to report wrongdoing (‘blow the whistle’), and protecting them when they do is an important part of fraud and corruption prevention and creating an ethical culture in any organisation. With a joint parliamentary committee set to report in June – now is the time for organisations to act.

Audit committees, boards and executive teams ignore at their peril the danger of ineffective or non-existent ethics and whistleblower programs in their organisations. New rules are likely in Australia soon and are anticipated to be wide-reaching, affecting companies and not-for-profit organisations alike.

Prosperity has answered the call for professional and independent support. We offer a unique service in the Australian market – Ethics Matters – developed in conjunction with leading Canadian ethics and whistleblower specialist, WhistleBlower Security (www.whistleblowersecurity.com).

Designed to be intrinsically independent, Prosperity’s Ethics Matters and WhistleBlower Security approach provides support for organisations to create policies and procedures and then deploy an organisation-wide ‘speak up’ hotline with online portal and independent case management system, along with support for investigations and effective reporting.

Organisations with programs already in place often struggle to ensure independence as well as satisfy stakeholder demands for detailed reporting, trend analysis and quantification for the impact that fraud, corruption and wrong doing is having on their organisation.

Globally recognised provider, WhistleBlower Security, is now available exclusively in Australia through Prosperity Advisers. Their state of the art hotline and case management system facilitates anonymous and confidential dialogue between the reporter and an organisation’s representative – whether initiated through a call centre, fax, and email or online. Each report is assigned a unique number and password, facilitating anonymous and confidential dialogue. Fast case management and resolution can happen in a protected environment and reporting can be detailed and in real-time.

Australians don’t need to go far to find damaging examples of poor detection and management of wrong doing in organisations. Recent cases such as the David Jones sexual harassment allegations against the former CEO, high profile cases at Seven News, Queensland Health, University of Queensland, NSW Health and Leighton/CIMIC, are all memorable examples.

Michael Mahabeer, Prosperity’s director in charge of Ethics Matters says, “From my experience on the other side, working in a large and complex corporate organisation, the implementation of an effective and independent program gave a voice to issues which would have gone undetected. It gave visibility to the Board and stopped issues escalating, effectively minimising the long-term financial impact from wrongdoing.”

Soon legislative changes in Australia are likely to drive companies and not-for-profits to implement programs and potentially report on wrong doing too. Australia could end up following the United States in this regard.

Directors of boards have a responsibility to shareholders for ensuring their organisation is protected. Avoiding brand damage which can have a lasting impact, affecting revenue and profitability must be a key consideration. Pulling the curtains back and providing support for employees to ‘speak up’ is going to be a key agenda item for boards across Australia in coming months.

For more information on Ethics Matters and WhistleBlower Security click here.

 

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