WhistleB has interviewed Angélique Parisot-Potter of Massy Group to find out how WhistleB's whistleblowing solution supports Massy Group's endeavours to be an ethical organisation in a geographic region that is known for high levels of corruption.
There is a Swedish term, eldsjäl, which is hard to translate into one simple word in English. Literally, the word means fiery spirit, but it is used to describe a person with a burning enthusiasm for something, often a person who is a driving force for change. Angélique Parisot-Potter of WhistleB's customer Massy Group, is most definitely an eldsjäl when it comes to business ethics. Angélique who is based in Trinidad, is the Group General Counsel of Massy Group and also heads up the Group's Business Integrity programme.
Angélique leads a team of 15 people that oversees all the Group's Legal Affairs globally. In addition to these duties, in the three years since Angélique has been with Massy Group she has implemented a business integrity framework, a Speak Up policy, an anonymous whistleblower hotline and soon, an updated code of ethics. Read on to find out how Angélique went about things and how WhistleB's whistleblowing solution supports Massy Group's purpose.
Massy Group – aiming to be a force for good in the Caribbean Basin
The Massy Group has been in operation since 1923. It is a widely diversified regional conglomerate with operations throughout the Caribbean basin, Colombia and South Florida. The Group employs over 11,000 people in retail and distribution, automotive and industrial equipment, energy and gas products, financial services and other business sectors.
Massy Group states its purpose as being a "Force for Good" and as such is "...committed to leading the way for positive change in our region." This purpose has driven Angélique's business integrity work. Many of the markets in which Massy operates do not rank highly on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. Further, in Trinidad & Tobago, where the company is publicly listed on the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange, there are currently no legal obligations for companies to protect whistleblowers.
"Massy has had a whistleblower policy in place since 2011. I joined the Group in 2016, at a time when the then 2015 Whistleblower Protection Bill was expected to become law in Trinidad and Tobago. It never did. Massy Group nonetheless remained committed to protecting those who reported wrongdoing and we amended and updated our whistleblower policy to reflect best practice and lessons learnt."
Whistleblowing is a hot topic again now in Trinidad and Tobago. The Whistleblower Protection Bill resurfaced in 2018 and was debated in parliament, but it was unanimously rejected.
Protecting Massy Group against ethical risk
A look at Angélique's LinkedIn profile leaves one in no doubt about what it is that fuels this eldsjäl. She describes herself as, "More than just a lawyer, I create and lead Business Integrity programmes to protect organisations against ethical risk."
Angélique has been working as a lawyer for 30 years and has deepened her experience within business integrity matters for the last 10 to 15 years. Before joining Massy Group, she had been at the BG Group (now part of Royal Dutch Shell) for 15 years. The company was governed by the US FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), and Angélique was the regional Head of Compliance & Governance when the Bribery Act was debated in 2010, which then became law in 2011. It fell on her shoulders to manage the process of complying with the new laws, and she learned the power of new regulations as a catalyst to drive positive change.
"When I joined Massy Group, there was no Business Integrity unit, function or manager. Given that the company was committed to operating with integrity, I felt there needed to be more of a focus on it. We needed to be able to help employees do the right thing, to make wise decisions in areas that can seem to fall in the legal grey zones. My prior experience helped me raise the awareness of the Board of Massy. The members of course also recognised this need to protect Massy against ethical risk, and the Head of Business Integrity role became part of the Legal Affairs remit."
Whistleblowing solution part of the business integrity programme
Massy Group's business integrity programme includes a business integrity framework, a Speak Up policy, a whistleblower hotline and an updated Code of Ethics. After updating the Group's whistleblower policy, referred to as Speak Up, Angélique focused on driving best practice in whistleblowing management solutions even further. Her previous experience convinced her that some form of hotline was necessary, with the ability for a whistleblower to remain completely anonymous if they so desired.
Once again Angélique started by explaining the rationale to the Board. The members saw the value of a secure whistleblowing solution for bringing the organisation together around doing the right thing, thus creating a culture of integrity and underpinning the ethos of the Group's code of ethics.
"I also underlined that having a robust whistleblowing solution demonstrates to external stakeholders that a company strives for greater transparency. It is therefore a key element in positioning the Group as a serious international player."
How WhistleB's whistleblowing solution was selected for Massy Group
Angélique began her search for the right whistleblowing solution.
"I knew what I wanted – best practice in whistleblowing, and I took six months to conduct a robust selection programme. A sweep of all the providers became a long list of 10, then a short list of 3 potential providers. I held long conversations with the providers, the Board and potential key users within the Group. We landed at WhistleB's whistleblowing solution as the best option for Massy Group."
The whistleblowing solution selection process involved evaluating the following features and elements:
- Different choices for reporting: by phone, digital and URL, e-mail
- How reports could be filtered and managed by the Speak Up team and how they could gain intelligence about particular types of matters reported and the processes for managing / receiving reports
- Language services for both Spanish and English
- Anonymous reporting capabilities
- Data protection and security
- Technology used to manage and support the service
- How processes are certified and audited
- How staff and operatives are trained, and reports captured and shared with clients
- What happens to data after it has been passed to the client
- Whether the whistleblowing solution is a core service or an add-on
How WhistleB's whistleblowing solution works at Massy Group
According to Angélique, WhistleB's whistleblowing solution was selected because it was very user-friendly, simple, interactive and had the anonymous reporting capability. Further, WhistleB's solution allows people to report on all manner of concerns or suspicions of misconduct, such as sexual harassment and bullying, whereas other systems focused mostly on fraud.
The multi-language functionality of WhistleB's whistleblowing solution is greatly appreciated and the solution is offered in both English and Spanish. It has in-built communication documents and templates that can be tweaked so that users do not have to start with a blank sheet, which is also highly valued at Massy Group.
"The WhistleB team has been so hands-on, so creative, so amenable to addressing additional needs. Everybody I deal with is easy to speak to. Their call centre response times are phenomenal. I am 6 hours behind Sweden and Finland where the call centres are based, but whatever the time, I always receive a response within an hour."
WhistleB's whistleblowing solution is available to the entire Massy Group workforce, in all countries and business areas. Additionally, contractors, suppliers, partners, customers, agents, distributors, representatives and shareholders are all encouraged to report a concern via the system about misconduct in the Massy Group. Angélique herself has had experience of external stakeholders being instrumental in addressing issues that could have affected the brand and reputation, which is why she wanted the whistleblowing solution to be open to a wide range of stakeholders.
How WhistleB's whistleblowing solution benefits Massy Group
Over to Angélique.
"How do you measure the impact of a whistleblowing solution? It is difficult to quantify, but there are ways. We have looked at including questions in the employee engagement systems and culture-related surveys to measure how the system has affected these areas. For example, what is the culture of Massy Group? How do you use Speak Up? What I know is that during the last year we have put a lot of effort into communicating the code of ethics, including Speak Up, and the feedback has been very positive. It has brought the organisation together around doing the right thing, and the knock-on effect into our communities has also been great."
In communicating the business integrity framework, Speak Up policy, anonymous whistleblower hotline and code of ethics, Angélique decided to take a bottom-up approach. To ensure the whistleblowing solution became sustainable, she hosted sessions in countries with the front-line staff only, without any other supervisors or managers staying in the room after initial presentations and endorsements from the Board. Her objective was to create a safe and independent space for discussions about the Group's code of ethics.
These sessions provided valuable on-the-ground input for her half-day communication session with the Board.
Angélique and her colleagues remain satisfied with how WhistleB's whistleblowing solution serves and supports Massy Group.
Influencing the tides of change for whistleblowing in Trinidad & Tobago
Outside of her legal and ethics roles at Massy Group, Angélique is proactive in trying to get the private sector to drive change when it comes to whistleblower protection in her home country. She believes that, just like Massy Group, the private sector must commit to protecting whistleblowers even without legislation. Her aim is to help private companies understand the value of whistleblowing in fighting corruption and underpinning business integrity, so that change will come.
To this effect, Angélique is part of a Transparency International business working group that is focused on assessing the state of the country's business integrity in both the private and the public sectors and what needs to be done – including creating a forum for people to raise issues safely so that these issues can be addressed.
"Everybody is asking why the Whistleblower Protection Bill was voted down. All first-world countries are implementing these kinds of regulations, we need them here too. I presented on this at our Chamber of Commerce recently and actually had a couple of whistleblowers giving me positive feedback afterwards."
Yes, Angélique Parisot-Potter is an eldsjäl, passionate about business integrity and driving better business ethics, not just within the Massy Group, but in her wider community. WhistleB is proud to be part of Massy Group's journey. We believe that being an integral part of the Group's ethics toolkit is how WhistleB's whistleblowing solution best helps Massy Group, and all other customers, drive greater value and protect long-term profitability.
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