The new European directive on whistleblower protection (DIRECTIVE (EU) 2019/1937 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL ) obliges organizations with more than 50 employees to implement an anonymous reporting channel as of December 2021, to help prevent the carrying out of crimes within any organization.
The key question is whether obligation is the only argument for implementing a complaints channel. The reporting channels have a clear objective, to help prevent irregular activities from being carried out in the different activities carried out in the organization. The larger an organization, the more likely it is that someone without the knowledge of their superiors will take actions outside the organization’s code of ethics.
Compliance serves to prevent crimes and exonerate the company from criminal responsibility for actions carried out by any of its employees. Until not long ago, the responsibility was solely on the person who committed the crime.
A reporting channel is a necessary piece in any Compliance plan. In general, companies should see the obligation to implement the channel as an opportunity to improve the overall functioning of the organization.
Different examples that we can see today in the media show that many organizations have been involved in different irregular affairs. The implementation of a complaints channel will not prevent irregularities from being discussed, but it will make it more difficult for them to go unnoticed, and to carry out the corresponding corrective actions. It is also a key piece to demonstrate the correct action in a compliance plan and can facilitate the exoneration of the company in the event of a crime committed by a member of the organization.
Should we be afraid when setting up a complaints channel? the answer is clear, no, never. You have to be afraid if you know that crimes are being committed in the organization but you do not act on them, but never if you act in an ethical and responsible way. The complaints channel will help the company to generate greater trust and transparency with its partners (clients, employees, suppliers and / or shareholders).