Ethical board calls for whistleblower support


By Krystine Lumanta

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The board of the Banking and Finance Oath (BFO) has come out in strong support of whistleblowers, as they play an important part in drawing early attention to unethical behaviour.

While the BFO signatories were committed to the development and maintenance of an effective regulatory environment, they believed that beyond compliance and risk management there needed to be a strong ethical foundation of interpersonal accountability, on which practices were built, that met the highest standards.

“An essential requirement for creating and maintaining a strong ethical foundation is that people be supported when they draw attention to potential unethical conduct,” the ethical industry board said yesterday.

“The BFO has established robust mechanisms for ensuring the accountability of its signatories, however, its primary focus is not on punishing error but on reinforcing and supporting those who wish to do the right thing.

“As such, one of the tenets of the oath is the promise to speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.”

Many so-called whistleblowers were driven to make their concerns public only after having exhausted all efforts to find support within their organisations, the BFO board said.

“Signatories to the BFO believe that they have an obligation to help remedy that situation,” it said.

“The BFO recognises the importance of good regulation.

“We think that good regulation will only be truly effective when a common ethical foundation, such as that provided by the oath, is widely adopted by individuals, not companies, working across the entire sector.”

The BFO was established in April 2012 and is comprised of a set of ethical standards for the banking and finance industry to follow.

As a condition of becoming a signatory of the oath, all those involved must abide by the standards.

If a signatory is found to be operating in conflict with the standards, they could be referred to its independent review panel.

In April, the BFO’s membership was close to 200, up from 120 in March.

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