THE ASSOCIATION OF Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has called on accountants to advocate for whistleblowing legislation as part of efforts to tackle fraud and corruption.
ACCA?head of public sector Gillian Fawcett told the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that employees who witnessed illegal acts, severe incompetence or mismanagement had to be able to speak up without fear of victimization.
Individuals are usually protected under whistleblowing legislation,
“The legislation is really all about protecting those individuals so they are able to highlight issues which perhaps wouldn’t be identified otherwise,” Fawcett said during a recent visit to Barbados.
“There have been areas, certainly in the public sector, where there have been fundamental service failures because there have been cultures in place where individuals haven’t felt enabled to speak up.
“In some cases that’s led to life and death situations because of the [lack] of legislation and protection in place for that individual and in terms of the policies [not] being explicitly clear . . . ,” Fawcett said.
Head of ACCA Caribbean Brenda Lee Tang noted that although accountants were required to abide by a professional code of conduct, sometimes the organizations they worked for had no established whistleblowing procedures and if asked to do something illegal, they left the organization.
“When you do that somebody there who doesn’t have that ethical or moral compass will continue doing it. That’s why there must be something in place,” she said.
Fawcett said legislation and policies had to be accompanied by awareness building.
“An organization might have a policy there but there’s no point having that if people in the organization aren’t aware that that policy is there,” she said.
She noted that organizations needed an officer who was responsible for the whistleblowing policy and served as a key contact for employees.
In addition to this, she noted that in Britain there was also an independent hotline to which individuals could report their concerns. (NB)