The CISI has launched a Speak Up programme encouraging financial services industry firms to adopt a policy to help staff report violation of company policy, the law or any failing which impacts standards.
To support the initiative, following consultation with its members, the CISI has produced a Speak Up workshop and Professional Refresher elearning module, which will allow firms to encourage staff across the organisation to think about how they can, and would, respond to potential issues.
With live voting and interactive discussions, the Speak Up workshop allows staff the opportunity to discuss and debate a series of true life scenarios and understand how to speak up with confidence.
The CISI Professional Refresher module explains the background and legislation behind whistleblowing and educates individuals on the best way to speak up in the workplace.
“We want our people to share concerns with colleagues and supervisors as part of everyday life rather than as a last resort event when the pattern of behaviour has degenerated to toxic”Speaking at the launch of the campaign at Mansion House in the City of London, Douglas Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC, pictured right, welcomed the programme as an extension of the CISI’s industry leading work in promoting integrity and ethics.
He congratulated the Institute for badging the programme as Speak Up “rather than using the term whistleblowing which has a much narrower and more sinister connotation in many people’s minds.
“We want our people to share concerns with colleagues and supervisors as part of everyday life rather than as a last resort event when the pattern of behaviour has degenerated to toxic,” added Flint.
“Training programmes like this are really important, because if society is to be confident about behavioural values it has to trust the industry to deliver them and organisations have to trust their people to deliver.”
Financial incentivesCISI Chief Executive Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI said: “Our Speak Up programme attempts to address the issue of compensation by giving individuals the tools and the confidence to speak up early, without financial incentives, and by encouraging open cultures within firms where employees are encouraged and protected when speaking up, so compensation is not necessary, but financial protection is.
“Speak Up is about creating a culture where an individual feels comfortable raising issues of concern within a firm at the earliest point of uncertainty about a violation, rather than whistleblow, which we consider occurs when there is no other alternative and an individual may be in a desperate situation. We would encourage all firms in the industry to establish a Speak Up policy.” A recent survey of 1,119 people conducted by the CISI indicated overwhelming support for introducing US-style whistleblower incentives to the UK. When asked:“Financial incentives to US whistleblowers get results. Should the UK likewise offer rewards to encourage reporting of wrongdoing by companies?”,46% of respondents were “Strongly in favour”, while 38% were “Somewhat in favour”, with 11% “Somewhat opposed” and 8% “Strongly opposed".
He added: “Although both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills have said that they are not in favour of providing financial incentives to whistleblowers, the CISI believes that the very real financial repercussions all too often suffered by whistleblowers means that they should be provided with financial support.”
The CISI Chief Executive highlighted that a 2013 survey by Public Concern at Work and the University of Greenwich (Whistleblowing: The Inside Story) revealed the difficulties experienced by whistleblowers. Some 60% of the 1,000 callers surveyed did not get any response from management, and when a response was received, it was generally not supportive. Of the remaining 40%, the most common response, experienced by 33%, was formal action short of dismissal such as demotion, suspension or disciplinary. The second most common response was dismissal – with 24% of individuals being dismissed after initially raising a concern. In financial services, 81% of whistleblowers stated their position had worsened after their first attempt at raising a concern.
“Accordingly, we suggest that a financial hardship fund should be established, financed from fines imposed by the regulator, to provide comfort to potential whistleblowers that they will receive financial support where necessary.”
The launch of Speak Up attracted significant media coverage. Douglas Flint was interviewed in two separate BBC Radio 4 Today prime-time slots about the campaign. The initiative also featured both as lead news article and in a commentary piece for The Scotsman and in Bloomberg, CityAM and other trade media.
The CISI encapsulates the Speak Up message through a SPEAK mnemonic, which sets out the stages of Speak Up (See, Prepare, Evaluate, Act and Keep Trying). It also sets out four steps of Speak Up: raising concerns informally within your company; raising concerns formally (perhaps through the firm’s whistleblowing policy); making an external disclosure to the regulator; and finally, making a public disclosure to the media or the Government. The last two stages represent how traditional whistleblowing disclosures are made, whilst the first two stages are where the CISI believes Speak Up can make a difference.