Creating a Positive Speak Up Environment

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As previously outlined and in an ideal world, the preference would be individuals are freely able to report their concerns. On this assumption, the next stage would be to ensure that there are the appropriate tools in place to allow this, which includes trained and independent resources to hand.

Below are several best practices that encourage employee reporting and combat retaliation therefore fostering and creating a positive culture for reporting

  1. A formal policy to raise issues

As sound Governance, Senior management should support, foster and live the speak up environment by communicating and supporting the speak up process and policy, which more importantly should outline repercussions for retaliation. The policy should also outline the commitment in responding to concerns raised by employees with independent and thorough investigations. This is a process that should be communicated on a regular basis and incorporated in brand values and organisation strategy plans. In fact, it should be incorporated into the risk control framework for any organisation.

  1. Channels for Reporting Speak Up Matters.

Making available multiple, safe avenues for employees to raise concerns can foster a culture where employees feel like identifying problems is part of their job and recognised as essential to the success of the organisation. However, those avenues must be trustworthy, protective of the employee, and understood by everyone in the organisation. 

  • The option of anonymous, third-party reporting that is truly protective of an employee’s identity;
  • Investigative processes are independent from management and Human Resources to ensure confidentiality and objectivity;
  • Reports of reprisal are taken seriously and investigated to ensure that the reporting employee has not been threatened with discipline, or disciplined, for reporting a concern.
  • Independent, confidential conflict resolution or mediation mechanisms, available as an alternative to litigation, are available to address both the problem disclosed by the employee and allegations of reprisal.
  • Employees are able to raise concerns to higher internal levels without restriction, and the right and process for doing so is understood by all workers and managers.
  • Investigative processes are transparent in terms of how they are conducted, confidentiality and conflict of interest protections, timing, and investigative qualifications.
  • Investigative processes ensure that the results of the investigation are communicated back to the employee.
  • All supervisors, managers and investigators are trained to protect the employee from reprisal and to focus on the issue raised, not the employee who raised the concern. 
  • Investigations into concerns focus on objectivity, solving the problem disclosed, and preventing retaliation. rather than taking a defensive posture towards the employee or the problem identified.
  1. Training

Reacting negatively or defensively to someone who identifies a potential issue is instinctive for almost everyone, so proactive efforts to recognise and combat this natural response through training is an important component to creating an ethical culture safe for employees to raise concerns. Training should be mandated for everyone in an organisation.


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