The benefits of an effective whistleblower program

As you reflect on your plans for 2023, take a moment to consider the introduction of a whistleblower protection program for your business. Not only is it a regulatory requirement for all large proprietary and publicly listed companies, it is becoming increasingly embraced by organisations large and small, public and private, as a means of actively protecting cultural integrity and the safety of staff.

The benefits of adopting an effective whistleblower protection program can be substantial, enabling you to:

1 Protect your staff and build morale: While there are many occupational health and safety requirements to consider, the establishment of a whistleblower protection framework will provide a clear indication to staff that you value their safety and wellbeing. Not only will their feedback help to weed out any inappropriate conduct occurring within your workplace, it will also serve to build respect for the employer and morale within the workplace.

2 Manage your reputation: By allowing misconduct to occur in the workplace, a business’s reputation is put at risk. It doesn’t take long for the word to get around. We suggest better practice is to live your values and take action to dispel bad practice, which in turn allows you to protect your people and your hard-earned reputation.

3 Build trust: In our experience, many whistleblower protection policies do not deal particularly well with the escalation and subsequent resolution of whistleblower complaints. For example, when a complaint is made about the CEO, but the complaint is directed to someone under the CEO, this can comprise the handler of the complaint, and the subsequent assessment, investigation, and resolution steps. The engagement of an independent expert to ensure the anonymity and good management of complaints can serve to build trust in the process among staff and enable an effective policy to be delivered.

4 Manage your finances: The costs associated with adopting a whistleblower and complaints management service are minimal when compared to potential reputational damage, losses due to fraud, or litigation due to unresolved negative staff behaviours.

5 Demonstrate good governance and compliance: Whistleblower protection services are becoming increasingly required by both federal and state legislation. In July 2022, the Australian Labor Party affirmed their commitment to implement the remaining recommendations from the 2020 Respect@Work report. A key recommendation within the report is the introduction of a new positive duty on employers to actively prevent sexual harassment inside the workplace. In NSW there is a review underway in relation to the Public Interest Disclosure (PID) Act, and in Queensland a recent review into culture and accountability in the public sector recommended that the long overdue review of the Queensland PID Act be undertaken with immediate effect. While legislative requirements are increasing, in our view, there is still a long way to go to.

How does your organisation manage workplace integrity? Is this an area that requires your organisation to lift their game in 2023? PKF can help get the design and balance right.

PKF has a team of leading experts that specialise in the effective design of whistleblower and conduct complaint frameworks. PKF Integrity works alongside PKF Audit & Assurance to help businesses be proactive in managing their cultural integrity and implementing preventative measures to mitigate risks.

Related insights

Subscribe to our newsletter


Propel your career

Learn more about Careers

Follow us

Find your closest office


Read our latest Clarity mag

View now

About the firm

Transparency reports