REUTERS | Jorge Adorno

IBE launches innovative app to support employees who speak up in the workplace

Nearly one in three employees have witnessed some form of misconduct in the past year, but nearly half did not speak up or report it, according to the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) European Ethics at Work survey.

The freedom to raise concerns is a core component of a supportive ethical culture where employees are confident they will be supported to ‘do the right thing’. Yet, despite increasing encouragement from organisations, employees still remain reticent. The reasons they give in the IBE survey range from a belief that nothing would be done (28%); feeling that they might jeopardise their job (27%) or a belief that it was none of their business (23%).

Speaking up is often an experience that provokes a mix of emotions; it can be complex and feel daunting, which is why the IBE has developed its IBE Speak Up Toolkit, to empower employees by demystifying the process and managing expectations.

The toolkit has been developed using first-hand experience and understanding of the emotional experience of raising a concern, coupled with the IBE’s knowledge of what constitutes good practice for organisations receiving those concerns.

“I have spoken up at work, raising a concern about a bullying senior manager,” says Rozlyn Spinks, Head of Advisory Services, who devised the toolkit. “Calling the Speak Up line felt intimidating and serious, but when I eventually did, I felt an enormous sense of relief. My expectations were considerable, and my emotions ranged from exhilaration to isolation and paranoia. That’s why the IBE Speak Up Toolkit acknowledges the emotional impact of raising a concern.” 

For organisations, the toolkit provides guidance on what makes an effective speak up procedure and fair investigation process. The toolkit can be accessed free of charge and is available on the IBE website, via the Apple App store and Google Play Store. It can also be customised for organisations wishing to give it an in-house feel and include their own speak up policies, contact numbers and resources.

The toolkit divides the Speak Up journey into five stages, with the answers to some common questions, and additional resources, to best prepare employees when raising a concern – from noticing a problem and having a conversation through to what to expect if they make a report or if their concern is investigated.

The five stages are:

  • I have a concern – you’ve noticed something has happened, what are the common worries around speaking up, why should you speak up and how do you go about it?
  • Speaking to someone – how can you prepare to have a conversation, who should you speak to and what happens after that?
  • Making a report – how can you prepare to make a report, how do you actually do it and what happens after you report?
  • An investigation is underway – what are the steps of an investigation, what is your role within that and who will be involved?
  • After I have spoken up – what is the outcome and what are yours and your organisation’s ongoing responsibilities?

Philippa Foster Back CBE, IBE’s Director says: “At the IBE we differentiate between whistleblowing externally – which may be considered a last resort – and Speaking up. If an employee can Speak Up early, their concern can be remedied, hopefully before it becomes a bigger problem. We are encouraging a shift in perspective, so that employees will truly believe that their concerns will be welcomed and taken seriously. The IBE Speak Up Toolkit will support them to have these conversations.”

The IBE have launched the toolkit with a Summer of Speak Up – a series of blogs, videos and webinars exploring the five stages of the Speak Up journey throughout July, culminating in National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on 30th July.

Further information can be found on IBE’s website or via #SpeakUp #SummerofSpeakUp

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