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Whistleblowing in Compliance Programs

Whistleblowing in Compliance Programs

The so-called "Whistleblowers" are aimed at promoting transparency, and their disclosures often have significant implications for the organization, helping to expose unethical, illegal, or harmful practices.

However, they may also face some form of retaliation or persecution by those accused, which can include dismissal, harassment, or other types of reprisals.

Thus, to ensure the effectiveness of Compliance Programs, whistleblowers are used to internally report suspicious activities that may have escaped normal controls.

It is worth noting that some countries have whistleblower protection laws to encourage the disclosure of important information and ensure that those who speak out against misconduct are protected against retaliation. Thus, these laws provide protections and create a safe environment for people to report irregularities without fear of retaliation.

In this article, we will address relevant aspects of whistleblowing in Compliance Programs. Continue reading to learn more!

Read about: Discover ISO 37002 – Whistleblowing Management System


What is Whistleblowing in Compliance Programs?

Compliance programs aim to create policies and practices that encourage ethical behaviors, and whistleblowers, by reporting irregularities, contribute to transparency and corporate accountability.

Thus, in the context of compliance programs, the term “whistleblowing” is related to the process by which employees or other members of an organization report suspicious, illegal, unethical, or non-compliant activities against the internal standards established by the company. It is important to stress that this reporting process is a significant part of efforts to identify and correct potential irregularities.

Therefore, when a whistleblower reports an irregularity, there are procedures to investigate these claims, and the organization may conduct an internal investigation to assess the truth of the claims and take the appropriate corrective measures.

How does Reporting Work in Compliance?

The reporting process within the scope of Compliance involves communicating activities that are suspicious, unethical, or non-compliant with the standards set by the organization, and this process is structured to ensure that organization members can report such issues safely and effectively.

Compliance programs generally have formal reporting channels, through dedicated phone lines, specific email addresses, or online platforms. These channels are created to allow whistleblowers to provide information anonymously, if desired, to protect their identity.

Confidentiality is an essential part of this process. Thus, the information provided during a report should be treated confidentially, thus protecting the whistleblower against possible retaliation. This is fundamental to encourage organization members to report irregularities without fear of negative consequences.

When a report is received, the organization usually conducts an impartial and thorough investigation, typically the responsibility of a team specialized in Compliance. Another option is the hiring of external services to ensure impartiality and objectivity. Finally, the findings from the investigation guide subsequent actions, which could be just adjustments in internal processes or reporting to the competent authorities, depending on the severity of the allegations.

Protection for the whistleblower is crucial; therefore, it is necessary to establish clear policies to prohibit any retaliation against those who make reports in good faith. In this manner, should retaliation occur, there are procedures to deal with this situation, such as disciplinary measures against the retaliators, for example.

What Are the Types of Reporting?

The nature of the report varies, depending on the case, in terms of the identification of the whistleblower. Check out some common types of reports:

  • Identified Report: The whistleblower reveals their identity when making the report. This can be done through formal communication channels within the company;
  • Anonymous Report: The whistleblower chooses not to reveal their identity when making the report. Organizations typically provide specific channels for anonymous reports, such as dedicated telephone lines or online forms;
  • Confidential Report: Similar to the anonymous report, the confidential report allows the whistleblower to share information without revealing their identity. However, the difference is that the organization is aware of the whistleblower’s identity but commits to keeping this information confidential;
  • Public Report: In some cases, the whistleblower may choose to make their report public, disclosing it to the media, regulators, or other external interested parties.

The choice between identified, anonymous, or confidential reporting depends on the nature of the report, the organizational context, and the company’s whistleblowing policies. However, anonymous and confidential reports are encouraged to protect whistleblowers against retaliation and to create an environment where concerns can be communicated more openly, known as a “speak up” culture.

In summary, it is important for compliance programs to establish effective procedures to deal with different types of reports, so that there is an appropriate response and the interests of all involved are indeed protected.

How to Implement an Internal Reporting Channel?

Formulating a comprehensive whistleblowing policy, clearly outlining the channel’s objectives, the types of complaints accepted, and the commitments to confidentiality, is the first step in implementing an Internal Reporting Channel.

Next, establish diversified communication channels for submitting reports. This can include dedicated telephone lines, specific emails, secure online forms, and even physical suggestion boxes, depending on the organization’s structure. Diversifying the channels makes it easier for whistleblowers to choose the most comfortable method for them.

Furthermore, it is crucial to ensure that organization members have easy access to information about the Reporting Channel and clearly understand the report submission process. Then, provide detailed instructions and, if possible, offer training to raise employees’ awareness about the importance of whistleblowing and the protections offered.

Finally, bear in mind that transparency and trust are key elements in the successful implementation of an Internal Reporting Channel.



In light of all the above, whistleblowing in compliance programs is a practice that should be considered to strengthen compliance and organizational integrity, enabling the company to proactively identify and address potential risks and ethical violations.

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QMS is an accredited third party certification body, it is currently present in 33 countries and focuses on the certification of management systems. QMS America is managed by the US office and has consistently grown in market recognition by technical level, customer satisfaction and competitive pricing.

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