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Do you have a Whistle-Blower policy?

While thumbing through the November 2013 CFO magazine (I still like paper), I came across their "Regulation" (page 14) column talking about the Dodd-Frank /SEC Whistle-Blower policy. While it may only apply to Public companies, many larger Privately -held companies have similar polices. Do you have one, if so what do you include in the policy?

Answers

Anonymous
(CFO) |

I work in the public sector. I can think of only one or two governmental agencies that actually have policies regarding whistle blowing. However, there is a large body of state and federal law related to the topic. And, most public funding comes with some legal precepts about whistle blowing when an employee suspects wrongdoing. In fact, some laws require it. The fear of losing one's job is not sufficient to support innocence once one is aware of the wrong doing per the law.

None-the-less, whistle blowers get fired. No one will hire them afterwards. They are considered pariahs.

Sure, retaliation is illegal. But, only one in a hundred ever gets their reputation back.

The public sector is the epitome of bureaucracy. Bureaucracy is partially defined as protecting itself before all else. Think of the three wise monkeys.

Think long and hard before you do it.

Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

We are private and have a whistle blower policy. The policy is pretty open ended as it asks for calls for: harassment, antitrust issues, intellectual property, trademarks, computer and communications resources, weapons, drugs, and general reporting of code of conduct violations. This policy is tied in with our code of conduct.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I would add to make the policy credible some companies hire/outsource a third party to serve as the hotline and investigator so employees can be more forthcoming with any misconduct observed.

Anonymous
(CFO) |

And I, having been through the third party investigation process on a couple of occasions, would point out that, the so called "neutral" third party is frequently beholden to an executive of the company. Such execs often demand to see or hear the transcripts of the investigative interviews. So much for neutrality.

I've even experienced legal counsel and a VP of HR providing at two different employers my and everyone else's supposedly non-identifiable responses (I was not involved in the issue) verbatim to the CEO after the investigator promised everyone that only a summary report would be developed and all the testimony would be kept confidential!

In the case of the HR VP, she embellished things a bit to curry favor with the CEO and falsely accused me of having made a big scene when I reminded her that I didn't report to her and suggested she did not have the power to fire me (she didn't) after she threatened me with termination because I refused to answer any questions without knowing who was accusing me of any wrongdoing. Her staff backed me up privately but refused to communicate that to the CEO she had told that I walked out and slammed the door on her when she "tried to help me".

Ever since then, my advice to employees is to not cooperate in such investigations unless subpoenaed. You have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Even if you think you have nothing to hide.

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