In the wake of the recent headlines about Oxfam, Public Concern at Work (PCAW), the whistleblowing charity, has revealed that it has seen a 44% increase in charity workers needing advice on 'blowing the whistle'.
The view of PCAW’s Chief Executive is that “…many employers… often think a policy and a hotline is enough”. She wants “…stronger guidance from government and the Charity Commission if we want this sector to be safe”.
Whilst it is, of course, good practice to have a whistleblowing policy in place an employer’s responsibility doesn’t stop there!
You must have a culture in which people feel able to come forward in confidence and with the knowledge that their allegations will be treated seriously.
As part of achieving that culture and reducing your organisation’s risk you should ensure that your whistleblowing policy is compliant with current legislation and best practice and it is publicised within your organisation, that managers are trained in how to deal with whistleblowing allegations and that staff know where to go if they have a concern.
Staff aren’t always aware that they are “blowing the whistle” and may raise issues by way of a grievance and/ or a complaint under an equal opportunities or anti- harassment and bullying policy. It’s therefore worth ensuring that those policies are also fit for purpose.
Critically, managers should also be trained in how to recognise whistleblowing and how to protect and support whistleblowers from reprisals.
“We have seen a big increase of workers needing support and advice on how to speak up in the charitable sector. We know many employers do not take the steps needed to create the right culture for staff to raise concerns about dangerous activities, and often think a policy and a hotline is enough. We need to see stronger guidance from government and the Charity Commission if we want this sector to be safe.”