A whistleblower is a person who publicly denounces illegal or wasteful practices. The term comes from the expression “blow the whistle” and refers to a sports official who calls a foul during the game. When corporate wrongdoing occurs, calling foul as soon as possible can save a company millions in fines and legal fees and preserve a priceless reputation.
The outcome of whistleblowing depends on how the foul is called. Poorly handled, whistleblowing can cause harm to the company through lengthy lawsuits, negative news coverage or other embarrassing exposure. For the employee, it may mean investigations, embarrassment and possibly income loss. Correctly handled, a whistleblower’s report allows the company to correct issues before they turn into big problems. This is why BBNC welcomes reports of any wrongdoing, illegal or unethical practice. We want you to understand the implications and issues involved in whistleblowing so that you can evaluate a situation and take appropriate action.
Issues that are illegal, unethical, or dangerous must be brought to the attention of the Compliance Team as quickly as possible. Experts from government agencies, regulatory groups, and the court system say that the best way to get results is to work within the system, using internal reporting channels and mechanisms. To help an investigation proceed rapidly and result in necessary changes, consider these guidelines for reporting.
-Always start by discussing the issue with your immediate supervisor. If this is not possible or you’re not comfortable doing so, speak to HR, to the Ethics Hotline, or to a higher-level manager.
-Be sure your allegations are true and can be proven. As far as possible your report should be based on documented evidence, which might include a record of the misdeeds.
-Consider what can be done to improve or correct the situation. HR or Compliance Departments will work with you to determine what level of authority needs to be involved to implement changes.
-Focus on the problem being reported. Don’t muddy the waters by making broad generalizations or by bringing up past issues that are not relevant.
Reporting Leads to Positive Change
Under current laws, a company must have a program in place to accept reports, and follow a process that escalates reports to top management. BBNC’s reporting channels share some important characteristics with those of other successful companies:
-Reports can be anonymous. For callers who do provide their name, confidentiality is respected, as far as a careful and professional investigation allows.
-All good faith reports are taken seriously and investigated fully.
-During an investigation, we involve only those who must be involved. Steps are taken to preserve confidentiality, and appropriate experts such as legal or accounting are consulted.
-Those who take reports via the Ethics Hotline or other channels remain neutral. They do not “take sides” on an issue.
-If problems are found during an investigation, necessary changes are made and employees are informed of the changes.
In our company, anyone reporting a problem in good faith is protected from retaliation. We take legitimate complaints very seriously, will protect the person making the complaint, and will investigate and take steps to correct the problem. Learning about these issues early gives BBNC an edge because we have time to respond and correct problems before they grow. Employees who report problems through appropriate internal channels play a vital role in our company’s future.
Because they often raise difficult issues, whistleblowers are sometimes labeled as troublemakers or tattletales. In some companies they’ve been subjected to humiliation, retaliation, and even job loss. BBNC understands that silencing whistleblowers– “shooting the messenger”– solves nothing in the long run. Beyond the problems it can inflict on our company’s performance and culture, ignoring or retaliating against whistleblowers violates the law. We encourage people to report problems through our internal reporting channels. If you have questions about reporting an issue or problem, contact your supervisor, HR, the Compliance Team or the Ethics Hotline.
I have observed an issue that I believe violates company policies. How can I decide whether to report the issue?
You must report anything that is against our company policies or the law to your supervisor, HR, the Compliance Team, Ethics Hotline, or other management. BBNC is committed to taking every report seriously. Each report will be fully investigated. If you are not sure, or if you need clarification or help, we welcome your questions.
I’d like to bring a problem to someone’s attention, but how do I know who to tell?
The reporting process should always begin with your supervisor. Your supervisor knows you and your job situation. If you are not comfortable speaking with your supervisor, call HR, the Compliance Team or the Ethics Hotline.
I reported something and now I’m sure my supervisor is singling me out. What do I do?
Immediately call the Compliance Team. BBNC has a zero-tolerance policy for any type of retaliatory behavior.
A report was made against my co-worker that I’m sure is not true. What should I do?
Contact HR, the Compliance Team or the Ethics Hotline to state any information that you may know about the situation that was reported. They will factor your new information into the ongoing investigation.