More 'people issues': Whistleblowing now a means to improve culture

HR grievances most reported in whistleblowing programmes, says news survey

More 'people issues': Whistleblowing now a means to improve culture

The role of whistleblowing across Asia-Pacific workplaces is changing, as more employees have grown to see it as an avenue to voice concerns related to "people issues," according to a new report.

On World Whistleblowers' Day, Deloitte released a report that gathered 500 responses from organisations across APAC to determine the place of whistleblowing in the workplace.

The report, where 93% of respondents have a whistleblowing programme in place or plan to have one in the future, uncovered that whistleblowing's role has grown beyond detecting fraud and reporting conflicts of interest.

For majority (71%) of the respondents, whistleblowing is now a means to improve their organisation's culture of ethics and integrity.

Detecting fraud and other misconduct placed second with 66%, according to the report, which attributed the shift to "changing work practices and cultural norms."

"For organisations where whistleblowing was considered a high priority, improving culture made up an even higher percentage, with nearly 80% of respondents citing it as the main purpose for the programme," the report said.

Meanwhile, other purposes of whistleblowing include:

  • Encourage a positive and transparent working environment (59%)
  • Mandated by legal/regulatory/group requirements (56%)
  • Mitigate reputational risks arising from workplace conduct (19%)
  • Part of Environment, Social, and Governance initiatives (12%)

HR grievances most reported disclosure

The changing role of whistleblowing is more evident when looked at the type of disclosures that organisations saw in the past two years.

Among the 87% of organisations with a whistleblowing programme, human resource grievances are the most reported (48%) disclosure type.

Other disclosures received include:

  • Fraud (40%)
  • Conflict of interest (34%)
  • Bribery and corruption (28%)
  • Sexual harassment (25%)
  • Discrimination (20%)
  • Abuse of power (6%)

"Looking at the disclosure types received, respondents also highlighted significant trends relating to people issues, including harassment and bullying," the report said.

"This emphasises the evolving role that whistleblowing plays in organisations in addressing broader issues in the workplace and the community."

Setting up a whistleblowing programme

Only seven per cent of organisations surveyed said they do not have a whistleblowing programme and do not have plan set up one soon, according to the report.

"The reasons provided for not having a whistleblowing programme were that management did not see a need for one, their organisations were too small, there was a lack of resources and expertise, and there were no specific legal/regulatory requirements to have one," the report said.

But organisations that are willing to take the lead in implementing a "robust" whistleblowing framework will foster trust among their stakeholders as well as detect and address potential risks and misconduct, according to Oo Yang Ping, Deloitte Asia Pacific Conduct Watch Leader.

"Organisations that do not prioritise whistleblowing may find it increasingly difficult to differentiate themselves amidst the competitive business landscape," Ping said. "It is critical for organisations to enact robust whistleblowing policies that ensure corporate governance while cultivating accountability, transparency, and ethical behaviour."

 

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