Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Business at risk from poor whistleblowing practices

December 2015

Around half of employees aware of misconduct do not ‘speak up’ about their concerns, evidence from a new survey shows. And that’s putting businesses in Europe at risk, it warns.

“Weak speak up arrangements leave companies vulnerable. If boards do not know what is going on, they cannot protect their businesses against crisis,” said Philippa Foster Back, director of the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE).

The IBE Ethics at Work Survey, which first launched in 2005, helps to discover what employees think about the way corporate values are applied in their workplace in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Results from this latest survey show that while corporate ethics programmes have matured, and now appear to be embedded in many organizations, nearly half of employees (45%) are not willing to raise their concerns about misconduct. And of those that did speak up, the proportion who say that they were not satisfied with the outcome has doubled.

Simon Webley, IBE’s research director commented: “Just over 60% of those who did speak up say they were dissatisfied with what happened next (compared with 30% in 2012). Why this happens needs addressing if organisations wish employees to have confidence that something will be done if they raise concerns.”

Across continental Europe, in general, employees are less positive about their experiences of ethics in the workplace than they were in 2012, when the IBE first extended the survey to include France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Honesty is said to be practised less frequently and employees say that they are more aware of misconduct. Fewer of those aware of misconduct raised their concerns.

 “The insights should encourage organisations that ‘doing business ethically makes for better business’. Investing in an ethics programme can be seen to have a tangible effect both for engagement and employee behaviour,” added Foster Back.

UK & NI Ireland | Business ethics


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