What can compliance teams learn from Expolink’s new Whistleblowing Report?

Expolink’s new Whistleblowing Benchmarking Report has revealed the latest trends in workplace whistleblowing.

The report analyses 18,335 whistleblowing disclosures made by the employees of more than 650 organisations worldwide. All disclosures were submitted through Expolink’s independent Speak Up service during 2018.

I have picked out five key highlights for compliance teams to consider.

  1. Reporting rates are rising…fast!

One of the standout results from this year’s report is the growth in global reporting rates. Incidence rates now stand at 3.3 reports per 1,000 employees – that’s up 57% from 2016.

With people more empowered to make a whistleblowing report than ever before, compliance teams must ensure their channels encourage engagement. Failing to provide an effective whistleblowing mechanism could force employees to share their views outside of the organisation.

  1. You need a range of reporting channels

This year’s data revealed a 50/50 split between telephone and web reporting. The report also shows that location, working environment and report topic can all influence an employee’s choice of reporting channel.

By offering a web-only or telephone-only reporting service, compliance teams could be missing as many as 9-in-10 reports from certain segments of their workforce.

  1. A human approach can slash anonymity rates

Live telephone reporting (via an operator) returned a much lower anonymity rate in 2018 than web reporting channels. The data shows that people using web channels are 50% more likely to remain anonymous than those who discuss their report with someone on the telephone.

Bringing a more ‘human’ approach to the whistleblowing process is more likely to help compliance teams build trust with disclosers, resulting in more effective investigations.

  1. Most people want to protect their identity

Even when using independent reporting channels, almost three-quarters of people seek some form of identity protection. While anonymity rates have remained stable, the data revealed a 47% growth in people willing to reveal their identity to an intermediary (like Expolink), but not their employer.

In designing their programmes, compliance teams must recognise this perhaps uncomfortable truth. Understanding, respecting and facilitating privacy preferences will result in more people coming forward and speaking openly.

  1. Hot topics influence reporting trends

Expolink’s data suggests that external factors can influence underlying reporting trends. This is evidenced by a sustained growth in sexual harassment reports, as well as increases in data privacy and environmental safety disclosures.

While this may not come as a surprise, it does highlight the need for compliance teams to build flexible solutions and processes (in terms of each of whistleblowing practices, investigations and resultant actions) that can accommodate sudden changes in reporting trends.

To access all of this year’s insights you can download the full Whistleblowing Benchmarking Report 2019 from Expolink’s website.

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