ExposeIT Whistleblowing APP
Corruption is everywhere
Our daily news consumption is often dominated with news articles and features about corruption, fraud, dishonesty and abuse. Whistleblowing is consistently recognised as the most effective measure to guard against fraudulent or unethical activity within organisations. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), in their 2018 Report to the Nations, once again identified tip-offs as the single largest contributor to the detection of cases of fraud and wrongdoing: “Tips were by far the most common means of detection at 40% of cases – more than internal audit (15%) and management review (13%) combined”.
Although many of the Government departments and private companies committed to a more effective and visible GRC (Governance, Compliance and Risk) approach most of them still utilise the old and outdated call centre approach for a whistleblowing solution.
The history of Africa’s first digital whistleblowing solution – ExposeIT
It all started with conversations on how we could get involved to help our children with an anonymous, reliant and effective communication solution to report issues like abuse, bullying, drug abuse, etc. At the time they only had two options, 1) confide in a teacher who they do not necessarily know if they can trust and 2) confide in their parent(s) who may overreact or not react at all. The problem is that with both these options there is no anonymity. We also quickly realised that the traditional call centre solutions will not work as people and especially kids would rather send WhatsApp’s, or use social media, for instance. ExposeIT was born on the same principles of WhatsApp, where a person can send a message with attachments including, files, photos, recordings, videos, etc. We also enabled the functionality to ensure that no personal details of the user or phone like cell nr, IMEI nr, etc. was captured, in order to deliver a fully anonymous solution. Once we tested the solution, we realised that the potential and power of this solution could be expanded for commercial use and that is what ultimately birthed ExposeIT.
ExposeIT becomes a force for good
Since the launch of ExposeIT, it has proven its worth and was an integral part of the EOH’s turnaround strategy since February 2019. Many of the issues EOH uncovered were the direct result of reports that came from ExposeIT. What makes this solution unique is that one can continuously communicate with an anonymous whistleblower. This allows a moderator to obtain more relevant and direct information and evidence throughout the investigation process. This further allows the moderator to keep the whistleblower informed throughout the process and gives them feedback on the finalisation of the process. Whistleblowers get the opportunity to help uncover fraudulent activities in a safe and anonymous manner that prevents them from being victimised.
Identifying information is not stored anywhere on the system, meaning that even if the App is somehow hacked, whistleblower identities will not be compromised. It is simply not difficult to establish the identity of a whistleblower using the app; it’s impossible. This allows a case to be built that stands a high chance of leading to convictions or disciplinary action.
All information collected via the ExposeIT App is reviewed by an independent law firm, categorised, recorded and stored for further analysis. Evidence and investigative actions are automatically time and date stamped for compliance and reference purposes, ensuring that no complaint is neglected or ignored.
Using digital to overcome many whistleblowing legacy issues
Most whistleblowing offerings are actually call centres making use of a call centre agent with a script of questions to ask a potential whistleblower. The call centre can, with the permission of the whistleblower record his/her details to enable them to contact them again later to give feedback or ask questions. Although this information may not be given to a client utilising the call centre solution the whistleblower knows that they have their detail, and this is one of the reasons people are not that keen to report anything. Without recording the whistleblower’s detail there is no way to give them feedback or contact them at all. Where people do not want to give their detail, which is the majority of the time, investigations are not effective due to a lack of information and are closed even before they start creating a perception that the organisation is not serious about following up on whistleblowing report.
These issues are all eliminated with the ExposeIT App as it is truly an anonymous, digital and an independent solution with continuous communication.
It is critical to build robust reporting mechanisms in organisations
Organisations should encourage and support whistleblowing by creating internal mechanisms that are conducive to report wrongdoing.
This can be achieved by doing the following:
- Establishing clear commitment from the board of directors as well as senior management, supported by a “launch awareness” programme;
- Creating a policy and procedures on whistleblowing, where potential users are sensitised to the structures and protection mechanisms available;
- Ensuring there are clear reporting structures for the receipt of whistleblowing reports;
- Using an external, independent and anonymous whistleblowing service like ExposeIT; and
- Providing users with comfort that the whistleblowing system is functional, furthermore providing feedback on reported cases which would typically include monthly statistics of reported/resolved cases and other actions taken.
ExposeIT is a critical development towards enhancing Whistleblowing and entrenching a culture within organisations that encourages whistleblowing and prevents retaliation against employees who come forward, it is crucial in ensuring transparency and good governance at any organisation. We hope that the ExposeIT App will become a new standard in enabling the safe, anonymous exposure of wrongdoing and further enables organisations to take a giant leap forward towards ensuring ethical leadership and strong governance remains a priority as the future becomes more digital.