UK: How Does An Industry Leader Take Their Speak-Up Policy From A Regulatory Tick Box, To A Key Business Focus In Two Years?

Last Updated: 14 May 2019
Article by   Safecall

How does an industry leader take their speak-up policy from a regulatory tick box, to a key business focus in two years?

About SSE Plc

SSE Plc. is a Perth headquartered energy company operating across the UK and Ireland. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.

SSE appointed Safecall to provide a Speak-Up service in 2016. Stewart Hughes, Head of Group Security and Investigations explains how SSE has developed it's whistleblowing or "speak-up" policy and procedures to become an industry leader in just two years, and how Safecall helped them to get there.

In 2016 SSE had a whistleblowing policy in place, which ticked the regulatory requirements box. However, for an organisation of 20,000 employees it was clear to the Board, stakeholders and Group Security that the number of reports they were receiving did not reflect benchmarking for their sector; in short people were not talking to us in any meaningful volume. We decided to undertake a complete review of the process in order to understand what 'good' looked like in this space.

It was immediately obvious to us that there was not a huge amount of information available to us in open source about this topic; people aren't comfortable sharing their learnings and best practice. With limited information available we took on the task of looking internally at why people weren't speaking up and what we could do to change that. The that things stood out were; If you want people to speak up they need to have easy access to information, trust in the system you provide and speaking up needs to be seen as a positive action. Most importantly, people need to feel protected when they come forward in good faith.

It was clear to us that providing our workforce with an independent, professional and secure channel supported by a positive awareness campaign would support these points by demonstrating our real desire to hear what people had to say.

Why choose Safecall?

When looking for an external provider we undertook extensive due diligence. We needed to find an organisation that took data security as seriously as we do at SSE. One way in which we checked this was by trying to gain physical access to the reporting bureau where calls were taking place. Safecall proved incredibly secure and we didn't stand a chance of being allowed into areas we really had no place in being without authority.

That was a huge positive for us, after all if you are asking employees to bravely report wrongdoing you want to be able to reassure them that the information will be handled in a confidential and secure manner at all times.

The second area where Safecall stood out was their willingness to handle different types of reports, all with the same level of professionalism and without judgement of the callers' story. Some providers said that if the call was a grievance they would direct it straight to our HR team. Safecall differed in that they don't dismiss a call because it doesn't sound like the 'right sort' of call. They speak to people in a conversational and positive manner, putting them at ease and posing the questions they need to, to get the full story. At times that uncovers more than what was initially being reported. That really inspires confidence in the service and shows that they understand that the people who are making the report aren't following a script; they say what seems important to them at the time, but there could be so much more going on. There is no doubt that the calibre of the call handlers and their backgrounds as former police officers is key to this.

What changes did we make?

Once we knew we had appointed the right external provider we began to promote the speak-up service with really positive messaging. SSE's culture is very safety conscious and all employees follow strict processes, with equipment and tools available to help them do so. The speak-up line is promoted as yet another tool that allows people to do their jobs safely and effectively.

We launched a marketing campaign that saw posters distributed throughout all of our sites. The most effective posters are definitely those placed on the back of toilet doors. It isn't glamorous but it is a quiet, private place where people can note down the phone number or web portal address without being seen.

Safecall helped us by providing advice on this marketing campaign. Their top tip - it is essential that this campaign was Safecall branded rather than SSE. It was a diversion from our normal internal branding but it has definitely ensured that people notice the messages, know they have options and that we are taking this seriously.

SSE also revamped our internal reporting mechanism having identified that this is equally as important as our external facility. Availability is definitely the key here, when a contact has worked up the courage to place a call, we have to be there – it might be our only shot at getting the information pertaining to the wrongdoing.

All contacts, regardless of origin or channel, are triaged within the Group Security team and disseminated for investigation to three primary areas – Group Security for criminal matters, Human Resources for HR related issues and the Group Safety team for any Safety Health and Environment cases.

Alongside the phone lines we have re-launched the Code of Conduct and reduced the numerous policy documents into one, in an easy to understand format that is accessible to everyone.

The Outcome

All signs point to the changes made in the last two years as being extremely effective. The number of reports we have received has increased and continues to do so, and these reports have helped us to stop wrong-doing in our business.

The feedback we have had from employees, the Board and external contacts who want to understand more about the process tell us that we are on the right track and are operating well. But we want to get to 'brilliant'.

For 75% of the calls that come in someone other than the caller had knowledge about the concern – so why didn't they speak up? To us, 'brilliant' is when closer to 95% of people who know about potential wrong doing speak up and, even more than that, it means understanding where the potential challenges are and proactively addressing them before wrong-doing happens or escalates.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions