- Report Volumes Have Doubled in EMEA & APAC. Employees are becoming more comfortable reporting incidents of misconduct evidenced by the fact that report volume in EMEA & APAC has had the biggest increase in the volume of reports since we began measuring the data (Page 9). Factors that may be influencing this could include new European regulations, such as Sapin II and the Dutch “House for Whistleblowers”, that are providing more protection for whistleblowers against retaliation. Organisations will need to prepare for an increased level of reporting by providing more robust reporting systems capable of effectively capturing and managing a much higher volume of total reports.
- However, EMEA & APAC Reporting Volumes are Still Well Below Global Levels. Despite this increase, the reporting volumes for EMEA & APAC are still well below global levels (Page 8 of the Global Hotline Report). Employees must feel comfortable to report and have access to a range of reporting channels, including telephone, web reporting and face-to-face. Organisations should also conduct regular communications to create greater awareness of available reporting channels and about how and what to report.
NAVEX Global’s 2017 EMEA & APAC Ethics & Compliance Whistleblowing Hotline & Incident Management Benchmark Report highlights a number of findings pertaining to the whistleblowing trends of more than 38.5 million financial services employees in over 2,300 organisations. Among the most notable of findings is the rise in reporting volumes seen across the two regions, which have increased by 56 percent since 2010.
According to the report, the steady and continuous rise in reporting rates seen in recent years is indicative of a “new norm” that is emerging across all business sectors, meaning senior leaders should be looking to better prepare themselves for managing more reports going forward. As such, it is important to consider the factors responsible for such developments, in order that appropriate measures can be taken to ensure that changes are beneficial to organisations across markets.
The development comes at a time when corporate compliance programmes have been subjected to a number of pan-European regulatory and legislative changes, aimed at updating internal reporting strategies and encouraging a greater rate of “speaking out” by employees. These regulations include Sapin II in France, which seeks the legally-binding implementation of compliance programmes in companies, or the UK Modern Slavery Act, whereby firms must disclose a Transparency Statement to evidence fair treatment of employees.
The introduction of regulations in a number of European countries, aimed at improving the treatment of employees who blow the whistle, can be attributed to the rise in reporting rates as evidenced in NAVEX Global’s report. Figures show that the number of reports per 100 employees has risen from 0.2 in 2015, to 0.4 in 2016, a sign that these regulatory changes have contributed significantly to the greater sense of confidence that employees across Europe feel when it comes to speaking out against organisational behaviour.
NAVEX Global’s report clearly shows the impact that greater regulatory focus on whistleblowing has had on employee attitudes towards speaking out. What is more, the increased coverage of whistleblowing cases and corporate scandals in the media is evidence that industry-wide efforts to improve employee willingness to make reports are working.
Despite the protections introduced throughout Europe, and the clear progress that regulation is making towards improving employees’ approach towards reporting, the culture of the organisation still constitutes a considerable obstacle in the creation of a fully open and integrated environment of speaking out. For front-line compliance staff, the focus is now on further developing the strategies that will encourage a greater level of speaking out within the organisation. This will involve promoting strategies such as open-door reporting to supplement the existing hotlines, and considering a wider variety of report management tools, to ensure all forms of reporting are recorded, including those sent directly to senior management.
By promoting alternative avenues for employees to report corruption in the workplace, compliance staff will, additionally, begin to close the gap between reporting rates in EMEA and APAC, as opposed to the rest of the world – another point highlighted in NAVEX Global’s report. The report finds that despite a rise in the rate of reports made, reporting volumes from EMEA and APAC are still considerably lower than global levels, further supporting the notion that there is more to be done to develop a “speak-out” culture among organisations in the regions. It is, therefore, important to consider the tools and strategies that are at the disposal of compliance officers, to help them adjust the balance of reports between EMEA and APAC and the rest of the world.
Historically, employees who have blown the whistle on organisational behaviour that they perceive to be wrong have found themselves subjected to considerable retaliation from senior employees or colleagues. Stories that have emerged of employees losing their jobs or facing legal action has resulted in a widespread sense of reluctance and fear among employees to make reports at work, out of fear of similar treatment. This has clearly had a significant impact on the rate of reporting.
In this case, compliance officers must ensure that the compliance message filters throughout the organisation from the top down. Reinforcing the message that reporting perceived misconduct is important for the operational success of an organisation will help to address the difference in reporting volumes between EMEA and APAC. It should, additionally, provide a platform for organisations to boost employee awareness of, and access to, their reporting routes.
The idea that organisations need to improve employees’ knowledge of how and where to make reports is another explanation as to why such a gap exists in reporting volumes between EMEA and APAC and the rest of the world. To assume that fewer reports are made in these two regions would indicate that employees are perhaps unaware of how to report, or where to do so.
To counter this, firms must make sure to actively drive awareness of the reporting options available to their employees, such as via telephone or the internet, and traditional methods such as face-to-face reporting and organisational hotline reporting. As well as this being beneficial to employees, it will also play a significant role in closing the gap between the regions and others. By reinforcing the importance of reporting perceived malpractice at work, and clarifying the intolerance to retaliation, employees should feel more confident to speak out.