Preventing corruption and other white-collar crimes needs to be a priority within companies. As whistleblowing has become more prominent, companies need to ensure that secure, effective, and confidential grievance systems are in place that employees, managers, and other parties can trust. Working with a lawyer of trust (ombudsman) allows an external party to play an essential role in the structure.
Working closely with a lawyer of trust allows parties who uncover such issues to report to a person outside of the company and guarantees them anonymity. In turn, employees have fewer fears about reporting alleged corruption, and they are fully aware of their legal rights and responsibilities with the information they possess.
Companies can then take appropriate actions if the information is accurate and corruption is discovered. Reacting to corrupt or illegal behaviour discoveries allows companies to enact and implement compliance policies transparently.
Anonymity is central to the lawyer of trust (ombudsman) model, as potential whistleblowers have a person they can talk to in confidence. Without this model, those who discover apparent corruption may be faced with bringing this information to the public or reporting it internally.
The disadvantage of internal reporting may revolve around the person involved in the alleged activity, as their position within the company may give them power over the reporting process. Whistleblowers looking to report to the public do so, knowing that it may damage their prospects within the company and may cause reputational damage to the enterprise. If the information is incorrect, they may even face criminal prosecution.
The disadvantages inherent in these two options provide the whistleblower with two further options: anonymously reporting the information internally and not reporting what they have uncovered. Not reporting the information allows the corruption or other matter to continue or may lead to another whistleblower possibly going forward to the public in the future.
In contrast, anonymous reports prevent follow-up questions. Without the opportunity to follow up with the individual, companies can be left where they do not have the required evidence or may be missing some critical information. The lawyer of trust (ombudsman) allows companies to have a system that negates these disadvantages.