Cases involving issues of a lack of compliance, corporate fraud and/or corruption, or health and safety concerns within an organization often aren’t brought to light without the assistance of a whistleblower. Standing up against one’s colleagues and co-workers often takes a great deal of courage and fortitude. Sadly, the fear of being exposed as a whistleblower, and the potential repercussions that one fears could accompany it, often serve to keep employees silent and complacent to corporate wrongdoing.
The Role of Internal Audit in Whistleblowing Cases
It’s at these times when the true value of an internal audit team is realized. In many ways, an internal audit team is the ideal arm of a company to deal with whistleblowing issues given its intimate knowledge of:
- Company policies and procedures
- Organizational controls
- Industry standards and oversight initiatives
Because they operate within the organizational framework, an internal auditing team should encounter no difficulties in accessing information during the investigation of potential internal infractions. Their roles as employees of the organization also helps to lessen the fears of those worried about coming forward and sharing potentially damaging information. Along those same lines, those accused of wrongdoing are more likely to open up to those working within their own organizational structure.
Yet despite the potential of an internal auditing team to investigate whistleblowing cases, there are a number of obstacles that have been proven to hinder their effectiveness during such inquiries:
- Lack of training: Despite many companies having very delineated procedures in place for the reporting of infractions, many external investigators have found that the employees charged with following those procedures aren’t properly trained in how to do so.
- Allocation of resources: Employing an internal auditing team to investigate whistleblowing takes those employees away from their other responsibilities of evaluating and improving areas of corporate risk and control.
- Conflict of interest: While internal auditors can certainly report the findings of whistleblowing investigation to corporate management, they can’t be relied upon as a source of assurance regarding a company or organization’s incident reporting and resolution procedures.
Placing Trust in an External Source
In order to avoid running into any of the problems outlined above, many industry analysts recommend that companies entrust their internal auditing and whistleblowing investigations to outside sources. These external providers not only help avoid all of the aforementioned issues, they offer internal employees the chance to remain anonymous in the reporting of infractions. A company’s willingness to bring in an outside investigator can also be seen as a sign of good faith to oversight agencies. Following the successful completion of a whistleblowing investigation, an external provider can also provide impartial feedback regarding a company’s compliance controls and reporting procedures.
While investigating and reporting infractions against your own company is the ethical and legal responsibility of your internal auditing team, executing such a responsibility is by no means easy. That’s where it helps to have an external provider to handle your internal auditing needs. Given our many years of experience in helping companies and organizations adapt and adhere to government and industry standards, we at I.S. Partners, LLC can be the perfect provider for you. We conduct all of our internal audits with the utmost amount of discretion and respect towards your unique policies and procedures. At the same time, we guarantee to deliver a thorough, fair, and unbiased assessment of your potential issues, and we remain available after submitting our assessment to help you address any issues that we may uncover. This service offers you the perfect blend of corporate accountability and internal anonymity.
If your company is in need of internal audit services or you would like to receive more information about I.S. Partners, LLC, please call 215-675-1400 or email us at [email protected]