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Most big companies today have external service partners for speaking up and reporting risks anonymously, called whistle-blower services.[1] It supplies existing employees, suppliers, contractors, and others to sound the alarm for serious risks of irregularities that may affect people, organisations, society, or the environment. The whistle-blower service is a ”warning system” and important for safeguarding good corporate governing and keeping the trust of employees, customers, and the general public.

At one company my manager had been reported twice to this service for bullying people (I later learned), when I faced him with this misbehaviour in a feedback session. The next day he was totally changed and behaved like a new person. I guess these systems have an escalation program where you get serious consequences the third time? I do believe these services are needed but would of course rather see people speaking up in public at once and not create another administration task. But beware of the risk you are taking as research states that most of the whistle-blowers suffer serious consequences like replacement, exclusion or even being fired. But if you have high self-efficacy and civil courage and want to sleep well, this could be the final way out if you are not listened to. It would be interesting to see statistics from these whistle-blowers services and get metrics for Psychological UNsafety, counting the number of records and visualising them in your company’s quarterly report along with finances. Which company will be first?

Just kidding.

In Sweden we have a TV-program called Uppdrag Granskning (Mission Investigation). UG investigated the silence culture in the Swedish public sector and one year later they returned to their “victims” to follow up on the outcome[2].  A year after that I followed up on UGs own follow up, hoping to find a success story.  One of the victims for UG was The Swedish Work Environment Authority with a mandate from the government to see those laws about work environment and working hours are followed by companies and organisations. UG had in their first program set the spotlight on an employee in this organisation who had blown the whistle and got in trouble for it. Now they had an action plan for enabling a better culture, thanks to UGs revealing TV program. I became curious to see if this plan was something for others to copy and got great support from the organisation with their plan for 2023:

  • Establishment of an internal whistleblowing function.
  • Survey from all employees to get an idea of their view about freedom of speech, expression, and way of communication.
  • Keep up the cultural work in the leadership and cooperation programs.
  • Clarify the purpose and connection to the Government’s new work environment strategy for a sustainable, wholesome, and safe working life.
  • Training of all managers in the regulations: freedom of information, freedom of expression, whistleblowing, and labour law framework.
  • Review of relevant governing documents to see if they are sufficiently clear or missing in terms of freedom of information-, opinion- and whistleblowing rules.

I tried to get the result from the survey and how the training of managers had been successful or not, but there the transparency ended. I will, just like UG, revisit this organisation when their plan has been executed in late 2023. So far, still it is just words.

This is a part of the book Psychological UNsafety from the trenches you can order or read more about here.

[1] Whistleblowing service: https://secure.ethicspoint.eu/domain/media/en/gui/101650/index.html

[2]  Mission investigation – what happened later: https://www.svtplay.se/klipp/30631112/de-visselblaste-i-uppdrag-granskning–sa-gick-det-sen