Whistleblower Examples: Primetals Sets Global Cultural Standards
Creating a robust, strong compliance and ethics programme within your organisation sounds important on the face of it but putting it into a real-world scenario can really help illustrate just how challenging but rewarding it can be. This case study looks at the implementation of a whistleblowing hotline in a unique business that operates across the world.
Challenge: Operations in 20 Countries with Unique Risks
As a company with more than 40 company offices, engineering, workshop and service centres in close to 20 countries, Primetals faces a variety of potential business risks. In emerging markets, for example, some employees encounter different cultural practices that can open up supply chain risks such as bribery, corruption and kickbacks. Because of these risks, Primetals saw the need to gather input from employees to adhere to their values of transparency and compliance.
While the company encourages employees to report potential issues through their open-door policy, Primetals also understood that employees need to have more options — including an anonymous hotline and case management system. So, they began working with NAVEX Global to find a solution that could support an international business in their heavily regulated industry.
Solution: Addressing Regional Issues with EthicsPoint®
Because NAVEX Global’s EthicsPoint Hotline and Case Management Solution meets Europe’s strict data privacy requirements, Primetals chose NAVEX Global as their provider of choice. They set up the system to be available in 22 languages to meet the needs of the close to 20 countries in which they have operations. “Knowing that NAVEX Global’s call centres could handle intake in all of the local languages we needed was key to our decision,” said Ruth Sturm, Global Compliance Officer.
The process for managing multinational risk is extensive, which is why having effective tools in place is essential. In addition to the hotline reporting and case management software, Primetals chose to add an online report form. This allows supervisors and HR representatives to include more information in the case management database, giving Primetals a more complete picture of cases around the world.
Every report that’s received goes directly to the centralised compliance team, led by Sturm. The report is then assigned to one of 15 compliance officers to be analysed, evaluated for veracity, investigated and then resolved. “It’s not easy. We need full support from the board and management. We have to enforce standards and make sure employees feel that they live by these standards.”
When employees are getting started in emerging markets, the compliance team briefs them on what issues may arise, so they’re trained to know how to react. “This is made for the safety and well-being of our employees. There are grey areas in some markets, so we make sure they know what to do and who to call.” Having the ability to report issues anonymously is a major benefit, according to Sturm.
Results: A Complete Picture in One Place
Primetals now has a centralised system that can receive reports from employees who suspect any issues based on calls, online reports and open-door discussions, the compliance team has a centralised database that offers a clear vision into what issues are being raised in specific regions, particularly areas with high risk of bribery, corruption and related issues. “Having a robust set of intake methods gives us a bigger picture view and helps better assess the risks we face. EthicsPoint provides an effective way of showing management the full picture of any problem areas we’re facing, or how we’re handling topics in any given country,” said Sturm.
Informed by trends seen in the reporting available from EthicsPoint, Primetals leadership can conduct preventive training and coaching, implement controls, and have discussions with local management on how to improve the situation. “Using EthicsPoint is much more efficient because I have one database for all the information my team needs. I don’t have to get updates from each compliance officer since we’re all working together in the same system. I can quickly see how many reports have been resolved or are still open. That helps me a lot in coordinating across the different countries in which we operate.”
When Sturm’s team reports to senior management, she can now show them a country-by-country overview of which issue types are being brought up, giving Primetals’ leadership insights into which issues need attention to protect their global cultural standards. “This system gives us really good transparency to management on risk, compliance and HR. We use hotline reports in our business risk assessment, analysing potential issues across departments and along the supply chain.”
Primetals Technologies, Limited headquartered in London, United Kingdom is a worldwide leading engineering, plant-building and lifecycle services partner for the metals industry. The company offers a complete technology, product and service portfolio that includes integrated electrics, automation and environmental solutions, covering every step of the iron and steel production chain, extending from the raw materials to the finished product. Primetals Technologies is a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Siemens. The company employs around 7,000 employees worldwide.
Find out more about how Navex can help your business put into place a risk and compliance platform that helps you become leaders in ethical business.