With effect from 1 January 2022, the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX) has made whistleblowing programmes a mandatory part of its Corporate Governance Code for listed companies and listing applicants.

HKEX now requires issuers to establish a whistleblowing policy and system for employees, customers and suppliers to anonymously raise concerns about possible improprieties in confidence to the audit committee. Issuers must state whether they have complied with the code provisions for the relevant accounting period in both their annual  and interim reports. An issuer is potentially in breach of the Exchange Listing Rules if it deviates from a code provision but does not provide reasons or explanations in the manner as required by HKEX.

This brief outlines the necessary elements for organisations to implement a successful whistleblowing programme, including key questions that Independent Non-Executive Directors (INEDs) should be asking Boards, how organisations can effectively build a culture of trust, and how technology plays a role in the trust equation.