Dutch organisations are still in a state of denial about the new Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA). This is evident from interviews conducted by The Integrity Coordinator with some 100 different types of organisations of various sizes in recent months.
On 18 February 2023, the Whistleblower Protection Act largely entered into force. Although the law is the result of a European directive that should have been in place more than a year ago, most organisations still do not seem to be taking steps to comply. From the interviews we conducted, many organisations do not yet seem to realise that something profound has changed.
The Whistleblower Protection Act was created to better protect a larger group of whistleblowers. It also allows for a greater range of matters to be reported. As a result, thousands of Dutch organisations have to adapt their whistleblowing policies and procedures and appoint one or more independent coordinators to receive and/or follow up on reports. Yet organisations still seem to massively be in a state of denial and they are not yet making efforts to change their processes accordingly.
Interviews conducted by The Integrity Coordinator with all these organisations also show that organisations often do not know how to organise their whistleblowing procedures. Too often, we still see procedures where the confidential counsellor is appointed as the reporting desk and the follow-up is taken care of by the management. In this scenario we wonder who is the independent person who receives the reports, the independent person who investigates whether the statements of the whistleblower are correct and who takes care of the communication with the whistleblower while keeping his or her identity confidential?
Over the course of this year, organisations will also have to set up anonymous reporting channels. It is not yet entirely clear how this will play out in the Netherlands. It is also not yet known how high the fines for non-compliance will be.
“All this causes companies to sit back and do nothing, while they should be working on getting things right. This is a good idea anyway. When organisations have an open culture, where everyone can safely speak up, potential problems are identified earlier and the trust in the company will increase. It even looks like organisations with more reports perform better financially. It seems interesting to explore this further in the future,” said Geert Vermeulen, CEO of The Integrity Coordinator.
Our post has been posted on the websites of Executive Finance, Boom Management, Beveiligingswereld, the Global Risk Community and Kijk op Noord-Holland, among others (in the Dutch language).
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