What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is the act of reporting suspected wrongdoing or the potential risk of wrongdoing. Within many organizations, instances of misconduct are brought to light by employees themselves. According to the 2020 Report to the Nations by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), tips led to the detection of 43% of occupational fraud cases, with half of these tips originating from employees.

This has prompted numerous organizations to contemplate enhancing their whistleblowing policies, establishing secure channels for whistleblowers, and instituting measures to safeguard and support them. ISO 37002’s guidelines for a Whistleblowing Management System (WMS) aim to facilitate precisely these objectives.

An introduction to ISO 37002

Published in July 2021, ISO 37002 is an international standard that provides guidelines for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and improving a whistleblowing management system (WMS) based on the principles of trust, impartiality, and protection. It provides guidelines on a four-step process: receiving reports of wrongdoing, assessing them, addressing them, and concluding whistleblowing cases. Organizations using ISO 37002 to implement a WMS can achieve the following:

  • Encouragement and facilitation of reporting a wrongdoing
  • Support and protection for whistleblowers and other interested parties involved
  • Proper means of dealing with reports
  • Improved organizational culture and governance
  • Reduced risks of wrongdoing

ISO 37002 follows the High-Level Structure (HLS) and shares the common terminology with other management system standards developed by ISO. It is applicable to all organizations, regardless of their type, size, and industry. It can be used as a stand-alone guidance or as part of a more comprehensive set of management system standards. This standard is a Type B management system standard, meaning that it is not intended for certification.

Benefits of ISO 37002

ISO 37002 guidelines  provide guidance for organizations wishing to implement a whistleblowing management system or improve their existing whistleblowing policies and procedures. Implementing a WMS based on ISO 37002 demonstrates an organization’s commitment to effectively prevent, detect, and respond to wrongdoings. Additionally, it helps them encourage employees to report any wrongdoing when they see or detect it, knowing that they will be fully protected when doing so. Some of the benefits of implementing a WMS based on ISO 37002 are listed below, in Figure 2.

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