While many organizations view whistleblowers as disgruntled employees looking for revenge and monetary rewards from the SEC, this is generally not the case, according to a recent study.
According to “Embracing Whistleblowers: Understand the Real Risk and Cultivate a Culture of Reporting,” by The Network, whistleblowers most often turn to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission only after they have tried reporting internally, or if they are concerned about retaliation by their company. In fact, only 20% ever reported to someone outside their company.
Organizations can do much to protect themselves, while also looking after employees. Since the majority of employees go to the company first with their concerns, organizations have an opportunity to address issues before regulatory involvement.
According to the report:
The fact that whistleblowers may prefer to keep things in the company doesn’t mean they won’t turn to the government or media if they think it necessary. Sixty-five percent of surveyed employees would be willing to report externally, “if my company didn’t do anything with my internal report.” An even higher percentage would report externally, “if keeping quiet would cause possible harm to people” or “if it was a big enough crime.”
How can companies manage this risk? By encouraging a strong “reporting culture,” they can learn about, and take care of potential problems through quality hotline reporting programs, The Network said.
Hotline programs have been around for years, but are more important than ever in today’s regulatory and business environment. Compliance teams should stop thinking of hotlines as purely telephonic; they’ve grown to include mobile and Web-based reporting solutions that give employees and others a safe and reliable way to raise their concerns internally via whichever method is most comfortable for them. They also give the compliance team important insight into what is going on inside the company.