Whistleblower software refers to digital platforms that facilitate the reporting, tracking and management of confidential reports within organisations. These online tools are key components of a company’s ethics and compliance programme, enabling employees and stakeholders to report concerns about unethical, illegal or improper activities witnessed whilst carrying out their duties.  

Features and capabilities of whistleblower software 

Whistleblower software will typically offer the following features:  

  • Confidential reporting: Whistleblower software enables employees to submit reports without revealing their identity to parties other than those investigating the case.  
  • Anonymous reporting: Some jurisdictions and companies allow for anonymous reporting of wrongdoing. Whistleblower software often provides the capability for reporting without sharing any identifying information. 
  • Voice reporting: Some platforms allow for audio reporting within the software, rather than requiring whistleblowers to write out the full details of their complaint. This also meets regulatory requirements to provide the opportunity for oral reporting. 
  • Secure communication: These platforms provide secure channels for whistleblowers to communicate with the investigation team. 
  • Case management: The software includes case management features that help organisations track, investigate and resolve reported issues efficiently and within regulatory deadlines. 
  • Document storage: Users can attach documents containing evidence to their reports, providing context for investigations. 
  • Alerts and notifications: The software may send alerts and notifications to relevant stakeholders, such as compliance officers or legal teams, when new reports are filed or when deadlines are approaching. 

Whistleblower software benefits 

Some of the benefits of using whistleblower software include: 

  • Promoting a compliance culture: Whistleblower software helps to create a culture of ethics, transparency and accountability within an organisation by displaying to employees that you take compliance seriously and encouraging them to report wrongdoing. 
  • Early detection: Having this tool in place enables organisations to detect misconduct and other issues early on and before they have a chance to escalate.  
  • Legal compliance: Such software helps organisations meet the requirements of local whistleblowing laws, such as those brought in across the European Union following the implementation of the EU Whistleblowing Directive 
  • Risk mitigation: Encouraging the timely reporting of wrongdoing and facilitating early resolution can mitigate legal, financial, reputational and compliance risks within the organisation. 
  • Audit trail: Using a digital platform provides the company with an audit trail of issues within the business, as well as the steps taken to stop misconduct and deal with the consequences.  

Legal and compliance aspects 

In many countries, whistleblowers have the right to make reports about wrongdoing confidentially and without fear of retaliation.   

For example, in the EU, the minimum standards for whistleblowing laws in member states mandate that companies should provide one or more channels for internal reporting. These must allow for confidential whistleblowing, with the information stored in such a manner that it cannot be accessed by unauthorised persons. In addition, when storing information, the company must comply with the data protection requirements under GDPR 

Whistleblower software meets this requirement by allowing all communication to take place in private, behind password protection and in a secure manner in accordance with the law.  

EU laws also stipulate deadlines for acknowledging receipt of reports and for providing feedback on the results of investigations. Whistleblower software should alert investigators to these deadlines.   

Best practices for implementing whistleblower software 

To implement whistleblower software effectively, follow these steps:  

  1. Secure commitment from leadership for the software. Make the business case for the solution, including expressing the importance of using a secure and private channel that meets the requirements of the law.  
  2. Select user-friendly software with an intuitive interface that makes it easy for whistleblowers to report and for investigating teams to communicate with them. Check that it is accessible to all users and is available in the languages your employees are most likely to be familiar with.  
  3. Set up your reporting procedure and guidelines for investigations and publish this internally.  
  4. Train employees on how to make and investigate reports using the software, as well as the importance of whistleblowing and the requirement not to retaliate against reporting persons.  
  5. Emphasise the confidentiality of the system and, if applicable, the ability to report anonymously.  
  6. Create a workflow for receiving, acknowledging and following up on reports. Include measures to escalate the complaint if necessary.  
  7. Store the results of each report in the software to help you monitor your performance and the effectiveness of your compliance policy.  

Is whistleblower software mandatory? 

It is not mandatory to use whistleblower software but, in the EU, companies must provide at least one safe, secure and confidential internal reporting channel for staff and other stakeholders to use. They must allow for reporting to be made orally, in writing or both.  

The internal reporting channels should maintain the confidentiality of the reporter, their associates and anyone accused of wrongdoing. They must also be compliant with GDPR.  

Alternative reporting channels, such as email, telephone hotlines and postboxes are allowable, but only whistleblower software makes it easy to comply with the security and confidentiality requirements of the law. This is why digital reporting platforms are a popular solution.   

Should we allow anonymous reporting? 

Whether you allow anonymous reporting depends on the laws in your country. The EU Whistleblowing Directive has provisions for anonymous reporting, but it can be exercised only if an individual member state permits it in its transposition of the law.  

If the local legislation allows, companies can accept anonymous reports. There are a number of benefits:  

  • It encourages people who might fear their identity may be revealed to come forward with reports. 
  • It reduces the pressure on the reporting person. 
  • It demonstrates that the company is committed to and actively encourages as much reporting as possible.
  • It allows you to uncover more misconduct if people feel it is safe to report, meaning you can act upon issues immediately.