Ensuring that employees feel comfortable voicing their concerns about behaviours which are, or appear to be, in breach of the principles of the code or the organisation’s core values is paramount. Most large global companies provide mechanisms for their employees to raise, or 'Speak Up' about, their concerns, or to ask questions where they are unsure of what course of action to take.

Speak Up channels are considered to be an element of good governance, not least because they can act as an early warning system for an organisation concerning the issues that need addressing. 

However, fostering an open culture where employees are able to voice their concerns of misconduct confidently, without fear of reprisal, is still a challenge for many organisations. According to the most recent IBE research, a large proportion of employees who have been aware of misconduct at work does not raise their concerns internally.

Common reasons for not speaking up include lack of faith that corrective action would be taken, not realising it was a problem, or fear of experiencing retaliation. 

Speak Up data can catch issues before they get out of hand and provide insights into cultural problems at an organisation, so overcoming these barriers to Speaking Up is crucial. 

  • Clearly communicate the process for handling concerns and investigating misconduct to reassure people that action will be taken
  • Offer different entry points; line manager, external provider, or HR are just some examples. 
  • Make sure that standards are clearly communicated, so people are more likely to feel confident that ‘borderline’ or ‘grey area’ behaviour should be reported.
  • Give strong, unequivocal assurance that retaliation will not be tolerated.
  • Proactively monitor against retaliation by following up with the reporting individual. This is also a great opportunity to update them on the progress of any investigation. 

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