Success Story | Webuild

Digital whistleblowing across borders: How Webuild successfully implemented EQS Integrity Line

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The challenge

Webuild is a truly global company. The Italian-based engineering company operates in more than 50 countries, employs more than 70,000 people, and aims to ensure the highest compliance standards in every country it operates. This sheer size and international nature of Webuild means whistleblowing system are even more complex than normal.

However, in weighing up the options, Webuild decided on a digital whistleblowing system because:

Even though a whistleblowing system is not mandatory in all of the countries where Webuild operates, the company is in any case strongly committed to integrity and ethics and wanted to use the digital whistleblowing system as a way of communicating with employees. Investing in the best system to protect whistleblowers was a way of showing how much the company cared about these issues.

Webuild adopted a digital whistleblowing system in 2016, however in 2017 complaints that the site was not working properly due to technical reasons meant that it was clear they needed to search for a more reliable service provider.

Opening the Webuild Integrity Platform up to third parties

Following an open tender Webuild chose EQS Group as their digital whistleblowing partner. Right from the start Webuild took the difficult decision to make the system public and make it accessible on the company website, not only to employees but also to third parties such as service providers and suppliers.

Managers were initially concerned that the system might be abused. Would it be posted on the internet and used to spread rumors about Webuild staff? In fact, Webuild has not found this to be the case. The company has found that putting the whistleblowing system on the website and opening to suppliers has actually ensured the company has a competitive advantage – their international ESG ratings have improved as a result!

Construction zone

Spreading the word: communicating the Webuild Integrity Platform

When thinking about how to communicate their new digital whistleblowing system, Webuild’s Communication department decided on a communications campaign involving intranet news and email alerts to employees. This was less a complete corporate shift, rather more of a revamp of the old system after all. What really helped the communication campaign to fly was the CEO recording a short but effective video explaining that the new digital whistleblowing system was now online, not only open to employees but also to third parties.

Reactions to the new whistleblowing system were mixed. Many of the countries Webuild operates in have a long history of encouraging whistleblowing – the UK, USA and Australia for example – but other countries lack a whistleblowing culture. Even now, although Webuild is an Italian company, the majority of reports come from outside of Italy.

The compliance team at Webuild has found training and communications key in addressing this challenge. With any new system, persuading stakeholders that they can trust that the company will investigate concerns while keeping information confidential, that the system is robust and there will be no retaliation is difficult enough, but particularly in countries which lack a reporting culture. Webuild has found it necessary to tailor communications to specific markets and they are now trialing different communications and messaging in different regions.

» Webuild is certified on anti-bribery under ISO 37001:2016 “Anti-bribery Management System”. EQS Integrity Line system allows a full audit trail on all reports coming in from employees and third parties. Everything is archived and GDPR compliant. This is vital in maintaining our high certification. «

Daria Angelini, Head of Compliance at Webuild

Daria Angelini
Head of Compliance,
Webuild

Webuild

Webuild (former: Salini Impregilo) is an industrial Group, specialising in the construction of major complex infrastructure projects, a well-established Italian company able to compete with leading international competitors. Operating in 50+ countries with over 70,000 employees and a revenue of €6.4 billion (Consolidated Financial Results 2020), the Group is one of the major global players in the construction sector.