COL is committed to functioning in an open, transparent and ethical manner, where individuals who report illegal, dishonest, or fraudulent activity in good faith or cooperate with duly authorised investigations into such misconduct will be protected against retaliation or fear of retribution.
COL encourages the reporting of serious misconduct or wrongdoing and commits to providing a timely investigation into any reports of misconduct and to reporting the outcome of the investigations to the relevant person(s) by having clear processes and procedures in place for redress.
This Policy sets out the ways in which individuals may raise concerns of misconduct or wrongdoing and how those concerns will be dealt with.
Whistle blowing is disclosure by a witness or complainant of actual or suspected misconduct or wrongdoing in an organisation.
A Whistle blower is a person who reports serious misconduct or wrongdoing in accordance with this Policy.
Misconduct or wrongdoing includes behaviour that:
- Is illegal, fraudulent or corrupt
- An intentional or reckless breach of any other material legal obligation (other than an employment contract)
- Is unethical or breaches COL’s Code of Conduct
- Is potentially seriously damaging in a financial or non-financial (including reputation) manner to COL, such as maladministration
- Is harmful or potentially harmful to the health and safety of others in the workplace
- Involves any kind of retaliatory action against a Whistleblower for having made a misconduct disclosure.
Retaliation means any direct or indirect detrimental action that adversely affects your employment or working conditions, where such action has been recommended, threatened or taken for the purpose of punishing, intimidating or injuring you because you engaged in a protected activity under this Policy.
Scope of the Policy
This Policy applies to i) COL and CEMCA staff, ii) non-staff personnel, comprising individuals working with COL through an established arrangement such as interns, volunteers, mentors, Chairs, or other similar assignments, iii) individual consultants and contractors with a contractual arrangement; and iv) partner organisations and institutions that deliver activities and services on behalf of COL.
This Policy does not cover a mismanagement issue that does not pose a risk to COL or the public, complaints of personal grievances, or matters for which there are other established processes for reporting and investigating, including under COL’s Staff Policies and Procedures, COL’s Safeguarding Policy, and COL’s Anti-Fraud Policy.
Complaints should be raised in the first instance with the organisation concerned, in accordance with its Whistle Blowing Policy, if available. Complaints of an alleged breach of COL’s policies should be raised with COL directly through its reporting procedures under the applicable policy.
SeeHearSpeakUp, an agency appointed by COL to provide an external and independent confidential reporting service available 24 hours every day, is the central contact point for raising concerns under this Policy, including suspicions and/or allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing or other corrupt practices related to COL activities. The contact methods are provided below:
a) a secure email address at Report@seehearspeakup.co.uk or
b) by calling one of these numbers:
- Canada – 1 866 606 5211
- Asia Region – 015 487 70593
- Africa Region – 0027 21 672 2322
- Pacific Region – 400 120 2442
- Caribbean Region – 00 44 121 629 0703
c) Web reporting can be accessed from here: https://www.seehearspeakup.co.uk/en/file-a-concern
Concerns raised with SeeHearSpeakUp will be passed to COL’s Director: Finance, Administration & Human Resources (the “HR Director”), or to COL’s President & CEO if the concern involves the HR Director. Personal details of the person reporting a concern, such as name and contact information will not be shared unless consent is given to SeeHearSpeakUp to share these details with the designated senior officers at COL.
The Whistle blower should be as specific as possible when making a report, and include details such as:
- The type of alleged wrongdoing;
- Where and when the events occurred;
- The names of the individuals involved and who else may have knowledge about the matters being reported;
- How the individual or organization committed the alleged wrongdoing;
- Why the Whistle blower believes the conduct should be investigated; and
- All documents and references to other sources that support the complaint.
- A Whistle blower is required to act in good faith and to have reasonable grounds concerning any report made under this Policy.
If there is a concern that COL has failed to initiate or implement a proper investigation into the complaint, the concern may be mailed to the ‘Confidential Attention’ of the Chair of the Audit Committee (the “Chair”) at:
Chair of the Audit Committee, Board of Governors
c/o Suite 2500, 4710 Kingsway, Burnaby
British Columbia, Canada V5H 4M2
The HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair, if applicable) will assess whether the complaint discloses a matter that is covered under this Policy. If it does, then the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) will review the information provided and either escalate the matter to an internal investigator (or committee) to investigate the complaint or designate an appropriate external investigator to conduct the investigation.
The investigator(s) will determine process and timeline but will endeavor to complete the investigation as quickly as practicable and within a six-week period from the date of the complaint.
Once the investigation is concluded, based on the findings, the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) will provide any investigation report to the appropriate parties for further action, if necessary, as determined at the discretion of the HR Director (or President & CEO or Chair).
Once an investigation has been completed, the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) will notify the Whistle blower (where contact details are available) of the results of the investigation, including whether the complaint was founded or unfounded, and whether COL is taking remedial action. Details will only be provided to the Whistle blower with respect to the specific outcome where it will not be a breach of individual privacy of the respondent and/or victim,
If a complaint indicates that illegal activity has occurred, the HR Director (or the President & CEO or Chair) may bring the complaint directly to the police or other law enforcement or regulatory agency, as appropriate.
The above procedures and any investigation carried out are intended to be flexible in order to respond to the specific circumstances at issue. The intent is that a Whistle blower complaint will be managed by a person or committee of people within COL who are not personally involved or otherwise in a conflict of interest with respect to the matter, recognising that COL is a small organisation with limited human and financial resources. COL reserves the right to engage in a different procedure as deemed appropriate in any given circumstance.
A finding of misconduct or wrongdoing may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment in the case of a COL staff member, and termination of the engagement or contractual arrangements or other appropriate action in the case of non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants, and partner organisations and institutions.
The making of any false, malicious, bad faith or baseless allegations may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination in the case of a COL staff member, and termination of the engagement or contractual arrangements or other appropriate action in the case of contractors, consultants and partner organisations and institutions.
The Audit Committee of the Board of Governors of COL will be informed of all reported incidents, with the identity of individuals protected. COL reserves the right to inform other parties as may be required.
Confidentiality & Anonymity
All complaints under this Policy will be regarded as confidential but this does not guarantee anonymity.
- If a Whistle blower asks to remain anonymous, the identity will not be disclosed without consent of the Whistle blower, unless required by law. If the situation arises where the concern cannot be resolved without revealing the identity (e.g., evidence is needed in court), COL will discuss with the individual who has reported the incident on how to proceed. While COL will take steps to protect the identity of the Whistle blower, COL may determine that it should proceed with the matter despite the risk of disclosing the identity of the Whistle blower.
Given the technical and logistical requirements of investigating a complaint, anonymous complaints may be difficult to resolve when additional information is required. Whistle blowers will be encouraged to co-operate with an investigation and to provide their identity and contact information when making a Complaint in order to allow for a proper investigation, if necessary.
No individual who in good faith reports a complaint under this Policy or participates in an investigation shall suffer harassment, retaliation or adverse consequences.
Anyone who is found to have retaliated against a person for making a report under this Policy or for participating in an investigation under this Policy in good faith will be subject to corrective action as necessary, including discipline up to and including termination of employment in the case of a COL staff member, and termination of the engagement or contractual arrangements or other appropriate action in the case of non-staff personnel, contractors, consultants, or partner organisations and institutions.
This Policy will be reviewed annually. All updates to the Policy will be circulated to staff and made available on the COL website.
Revised: November 2021