Study reveals whistleblowing trends and drivers

Over a third of UK companies have no whistleblowing system in place -- and the UK has a more firmly entrenched whistleblowing culture than many other countries. This is according to a new study published today by EQS Group. The Whistleblowing Report 2019, which was conducted with the University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur in Switzerland, sought the views of 1,392 companies across the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland.

Of the British companies surveyed, 39% received complaints in the last year about misconduct on such issues as bribery, theft or fraud. Misconduct was more frequently reported (in 46% of cases) in large companies with more than 249 employees. Some 29% of these unearthed potential financial loss of between £9,000 and £90,000 via whistleblowing channels (16% identified over £90,000). On the matter of impetus for the introduction of a system, the report found that UK companies were most likely to implement one to strengthen reputation as an ethical, moral company, whereas in France the primary driver was the avoidance of financial loss.

Managing director at EQS Group, Viviane Joynes says whistleblowing channels are an important risk mitigation tool for all organisations: "As mandated in the EU directive we believe that companies should offer effective, confidential and secure reporting channels to their stakeholders to protect their own and the public’s interest."

The EU last month adopted the Whistleblowing Directive, designed to strengthen provisions across Europe, with a date of May 2021 for implementation. It requires companies and public sector organisations with over 50 employees to set up channels and procedures for whistleblowers to be able to safely report and includes a duty of confidentiality.

The UK is not be obliged to implement the Directive following Brexit, but given its current leadership in the whilsteblowing arena and its motivations for instilling the correct culture, it is reasonable to expect it will follow suit.

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