In the recent past the Institute of Risk Management South Africa (IRMSA) has received numerous queries from risk professionals on how to handle undue pressure, unfair treatment and, in some instances, personal threats when reporting on risk in their organisations or to manipulate risk reporting.
The outcome of this is either a risk report that is not a true reflection of the current risks facing their organisations and will undoubtedly, sometime in the future, be used as evidence against the risk manager for not having performed proper risk management or a risk practitioner that is side-lined (constructive dismissal) or resigns.
One of the most important attributes of a risk professional is integrity and the ability to have crucial conversations with leadership and reporting of the unvarnished truth. This however should not be to the detriment of risk practitioners’ careers nor their personal safety.
IRMSA has responded to this urgent call to action in the following ways:
- A memorandum of understanding between the Special Investigating Unit (SIU and IRMSA has been finalised.
- IRMSA joined other professional bodies in initiating the Anti-Intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum (AEPF)
Members need to note the following processes that have been created should they find themselves in a position where they need to report unethical behaviour or corruption.
- IRMSA’s initiaves with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)
The memorandum of understanding with the SIU covers, amongst others, the following key principles:
- To support the highest level of professional behaviour in the risk profession and to maintain the integrity and to prevent dishonourable conducts and practices;
- The SIU and IRMSA will cooperate on the detection of risks like fraud and corruption and will investigate unlawful activities which come to their attention during the execution of their respective mandates.
As a result of the increasing number of calls for support relating to the above, IRMSA, in collaboration with the SIU are able to provide the following support:
- First, the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) whistle Protection Services will provide protection to whistle blowers providing they qualify under the following criteria highlighted below (as per the Whistle Blower Protection Act).
- The person needs to be a witness in a criminal matter or commission of inquiry;
- If there is enough evidence contained in a written statement from the whistle blower, it can also be admitted as motivation for protection;
- Through the SIU, individuals will be connected with the NPA and complete the forms and have an interview with NPA whistle blower unit in the province where the whistle-blower resides;
- The decision will be made within 14 days after the completed forms have been received and the interview completed.
- Second, if the whistle blower is reporting through the SIU hotline, the person will be assured that he or she will be anonymous providing the person uses the following 5 options:
- Email address – email@example.com
- SIU hotline – 0800037774
- Reporting online www.whistleblowing.co.
- SMS – 33490
- Post to PO Box 51006, Musgrave, 4062
Anti-Intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum (AEPF)
The AEPF was established to assist professionals in certain fields who are being intimidated for exposing corruption in the workplace. This forum also provides advice to potential whistle-blowers in the governance, accounting, auditing, business, risk management and related fields on how to blow the whistle safely, responsibly and effectively.
The AEPF strives to:
- Provide a platform for participating professional body members to raise their concerns about corruption and intimidation.
- Educating members of participating professional bodies by providing practical advice, support and guidance to individuals who are intimidated and helping them to make protected disclosures responsibly.
- Acting collectively to lobby government or governmental bodies to improve whistle-blower legislation and policies.
- To be a collective professional voice calling for improved governance and greater accountability within the public and private sectors in SA.
You can contact IRMSA on any of our existing platforms, or myself or our Chief Risk Advisor. Our contact details are also available on our website.
In closing, I invite all our members to make use of these bodies should you feel that you are experiencing undue pressure or being intimidated in any way as a risk professional. It is of utmost importance that we are able to perform our work with integrity and the highest standards expected from us by the risk management profession.
Stay healthy, stay safe