Just What is a Whistleblower?
Ethics Resource Center Report Challenges Traditional View, Says Whistleblower is not a Rogue Employee
- Fifty-six percent of those who reported misconduct took their reports to someone they know and trust inside the company, such as a direct supervisor.
- Across almost all demographic groups, only about one in 20 individuals (five percent) would be motivated to report outside the company by a monetary reward.
- Reporting numbers are higher at companies that are showing signs of recovering from the recession than those that are still struggling. At companies demonstrating no signs of recovery, 63 percent of those who witnessed wrongdoing reported it. That number goes up to 77 percent at companies where five or more signs of recovery are evident. This suggests that employees are reluctant to add to company problems at a time of financial difficulty.
The study shows that reporting rates are higher at companies with strong ethics programs. The ERC recommended that companies can stimulate reporting by clearly defining misconduct and teaching how to report it, demonstrating that reporting has an impact, standing behind employees who come forward, and acknowledging the reporter’s courage. Effective rewards can be as simple as a handwritten note of thanks or recognition of the report during the employee’s annual performance review.
The supplemental study said that more than seven in 10 (72 percent) of workers who believe their company rewards ethical conduct reported wrongdoing, compared to 57 percent who did not believe ethical conduct was recognized. The belief that reporting wrongdoing has an impact is a powerful motivator. Among those who believe they are “influential” in their workplace, more than three quarters (76 percent) reported misconduct, compared to 52 percent who believed their voice is unlikely to be heard. A sense of personal security also makes a difference. Seventy-four percent of those who said they could question management without fear of retaliation reported misconduct, compared to 51 percent who feared retaliation.
The findings and conclusions of this report are those of the Ethics Resource Center alone and do not represent the views of the corporate sponsors of this research project.
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