Appen Group Whistleblower / Speak Up Policy
Purpose and Scope
Appen wants to make sure it is always conducting its businesses legally. We want people who are concerned about improper conduct to feel comfortable reporting that conduct. The purpose of this policy is to explain how you can do that, and what we will do when we receive reports.
The Policy applies globally. It applies to all Appen’s subsidiaries, businesses, divisions, and offices (Group). It also applies across all jurisdictions where we operate. If local legislation, regulation, or laws provide a higher level of protection than what is included in this Policy, the local legislation controls.
The Policy does not form part of any contract of employment or any industrial instrument.
Who is a Reporter?
You are a Reporter if you make or attempt to make a disclosure of improper conduct.
A Reporter can be:
- directors, officers, managers, employees (including part-time, casuals, secondees, interns etc);
- contractors, consultants, suppliers, service providers (or their employees or subcontractors);
- former employees of the Group;
- family members of any of the above.
Reporters are sometimes referred to as “whistleblowers”.
Improper conduct includes any conduct or an improper state of affairs that is:
- violates the law, a regulation or any legal code;
- in serious breach of internal policy (including our Code of Conduct);
- inconsistent with our corporate values;
- inconsistent with the Appen ESG statement;
- unlawfully discriminatory;
- bullying and harassment;
- a factor in the creation of an unsafe work environment
- detrimental to the interests of Appen or that may cause us financial or non-financial loss (including reputational harm).
Making the Disclosure
As a Reporter, you can make a disclosure in any of the following ways:
- Whistleblowing/Anonymous Reporting via web and mobile below;
- Anonymous web reporting via Speeki at https://appen.report.speeki.com.
- Via the Speeki app which can be downloaded from the Apple store or Google Play for use on an iPhone or Android phones (the company code is APPEN (all UPPER CASE)).
- Speak with an officer, director, the company secretary or a member of the executive team at Appen; or
- Speak with Appen’s external auditor (currently KPMG).
You must act honestly and reasonably in making the disclosure, with a genuine belief that the improper conduct has occurred.
Content of the Disclosure
You should include as many of the following details as you have in your disclosure:
- the nature of the conduct that concerns you;
- the details of the person you think engaged or is engaging in any relevant conduct;
- when and where the conduct occurred (e.g. dates and times);
- details of anyone else aware of or involved in the conduct;
- details of anyone else who might be able to verify your disclosure;
- whether you have done anything in response to the conduct;
- whether you have any concerns about possibly being victimised, and if so by whom; and
- any supporting information (e.g. documents, file notes, emails, photographs)
Anonymity and Confidentiality
If you want to make an anonymous disclosure or restrict your disclosure to only certain people, we will respect that request.
- You have the right to remain anonymous and do not need to identify yourself at any time during the investigation process.
- Appen may use tools and platforms that help protect your identity.
- At no time will Appen force you to reveal your identity.
- You can refuse to answer questions you feel could reveal your identity.
- If you choose to reveal your identity at any time, we will document who will have access to that information.
At any time, you can choose to identify yourself, but this is your choice and at no point do you need to do this nor will you be forced to provide your identity.
There are some limited situations where Appen may not be able to comply fully with your request as a Reporter to remain anonymous. For example, where:
- we are compelled by law to do so (for example, where Appen receives a valid subpoena);
- there is an immediate and substantial risk to the health or wellbeing of you or another person (for example, where a disclosure suggests you might engage in self-harm or harm others);
- we need to engage external legal counsel in order to obtain legal advice;
- we use a specialist external investigator;
- we consider we are obligated to make a disclosure to a regulator or the police under legislation (for example, where a felony has been reported we may be required to report it to the police); or
- there is an imminent risk of serious harm or danger to public health or safety, or to the financial system, if the information is not acted on immediately.
Whilst we will still make best endeavours to investigate the disclosure, there may be some practical limitations in doing so if you do not agree to share your disclosure or identity.
The Investigative Process
- Once your disclosure is submitted (anonymous or not), this report goes to the General Counsel (or if the disclosure concerns the General Counsel then to an unimplicated non-executive director of the Board).
- We will send you an acknowledgment of the report and introduce you to the investigator, who may have additional questions for you. We may investigate the disclosure internally or use third-parties to investigate any disclosure.
- As appropriate you will be advised of the process of the investigation. You should understand that investigations may be delayed when witnesses are traveling or on leave, so while we will try to get investigations done quickly, this is sometimes beyond our control.
- Once the investigation is done, you will be provided with a high-level summary of the outcome of the investigation. There may be information that cannot be shared with you.
- If, after receiving the high-level summary of the investigation, you are not satisfied with the result, you may request an escalation in writing along with details as to the basis for the request. The appropriate escalation path will be determined on a case-by-case basis.
We prohibit all forms of retaliation against you as a direct result of being a Reporter or a witness in an investigation. Retaliation is negative action against you because of your participation as a Reporter, such as:
- termination of employment (unless unrelated and in the ordinary course of business);
- disciplinary action;
- performance management (unless unrelated and in the ordinary course of business);
- harassment or bullying;
- personal or financial disadvantage; or
- unlawful discrimination
If you feel that you have been or will be retaliated against, you should escalate this immediately to the General Counsel or SVP of HR. The General Counsel or SVP of HR will investigate the retaliation and take the action they feel is appropriate in order to address any valid concern. If you feel your report of retaliation was not resolved adequately you can escalate this case in writing to the CEO or if the concern involves the CEO then the Board Audit and Risk Committee.
We have discretion to grant a Reporter who has not engaged in serious or unlawful conduct, immunity from company disciplinary action relating to matters that come to light as a result of their disclosure. We may raise with you matters that arise in the ordinary course of your employment or engagement (e.g. individual performance or misconduct issues) and which are separate from the matter disclosed.
Reporting to Regulators
Breach of Policy
Updating the Whistleblowing Policy
From time to time, and at least annually, we may update this Policy. Any changes to this Policy will be communicated with all employees and any relevant stakeholders and must be approved by the CEO. Any changes will be reported to the Board as below.
Escalation of Concerns
If you disagree with the outcome of an investigation or feel that there have been procedural irregularities, you should escalate this immediately to the General Counsel or SVP of HR. The General Counsel or SVP of HR will investigate such concerns and take the action they feel is appropriate in order to address any valid concern. If your concern involves the General Counsel or SVP of HR or you feel your concern was not addressed adequately by them you can escalate the concern in writing to the CEO or if the concern involves the CEO then the Chair of the Board Audit and Risk Committee (BARC).
Reporting to the Board of Directors
The Board is updated at each Board meeting on the Policy, and any reports, investigations, and results taken under it. Reports or investigations carrying an undue amount of risk will be reported to the Board outside of the monthly updates. The Board at any time can ask about matters arising or pending under the Policy. The Board is responsible and accountable for oversight of the implementation and effectiveness of the Policy.
Initial release date: 10 January 2020 Revision date: 9 July 2021