Whistleblowing is on the rise - according to survey results released today - but more can still be done to encourage employees to speak up.

We recently commissioned a whistleblowing survey of 2,500 business managers in France, Germany, Hong Kong, the UK and the US. I am delighted to share with you our survey report on the trends shown by the survey results and how understanding these might help inform businesses’ approach to whistleblowing.

The results show that whistleblowing is becoming more the ‘norm’:

  • Almost half (47 per cent) of business managers reported that they had witnessed or engaged in whistleblowing or had had wrongdoing reported to them, up from 34 per cent in a similar survey we conducted in 2014; and
  • only 13 per cent of business managers now claim that their employers discourage whistleblowing – down from 40 per cent in 2014. 

But the results also show that workplace culture is still deterring large numbers of employees from reporting wrongdoing:

  • 55 per cent of managers reported that they and their co-workers would be deterred from whistleblowing by concerns that it would damage their career prospects or reputation; and
  • 55 per cent claim that they and their co-workers would be deterred from whistleblowing by concerns that their reports would not remain anonymous. 

Whistleblowing can play a vital role in enabling businesses to regulate themselves and avoid misconduct.  It is encouraging to see that there has been a positive shift in attitudes towards whistleblowing in our latest survey but there is some way to go before it is perceived to be a fully accepted part of workplace culture.  

In order to tackle employee concerns around whistleblowing, businesses need to consider how they implement and follow whistleblowing policies and procedures, and crucially they need to explore how they embed the practice into their corporate culture. 

For a whistleblowing process to work effectively, employees and employers alike need to feel protected by the policies in place and to believe that they are being enforced and endorsed from the top of an organisation down.