Internal Whistleblower Tips Confirmed at Record Rate in 2015

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Employees continued to report misconduct internally at higher levels and those reports were confirmed at an all-time high in 2015, according to the Navex Global annual Ethics and Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report released yesterday. Navex analyzes data from 860,000 reports across 2,300 organizations globally, including information from compliance hotlines, and compiles the information into its report.

The report is typically used by corporate compliance departments to benchmark their information against the operation of other organizations. However, it can be an important barometer of how businesses are treating whistleblowers as most employees report internally prior to providing information to the U.S. Government.

Among the findings:

Internal Whistleblowing Up: There was a 44% rise in internal reporting of wrongdoing between 2010 and 2014. The elevated reporting rate continued in 2015 with 1.3 reports per 100 employees. Of these claims, 41 percent were substantiated in 2015.

Longer Investigations: It is taking longer to investigate internal whistleblower complaints. Companies closed ethics and compliance cases in a median of 46 calendar days in 2015. That number is up from 32 days in 2011.

Retaliation is Up: Internal investigations confirmed 26 percent of all reports of retaliation. However, an employee who suffers discrimination in the terms and conditions of their employment is unlikely to report that retaliation internally – less than one percent do. The high substantiation rate doubled in 2014 compared to 2013 and remained elevated for the most recent year.

Anonymous Reporting Down: The rate of anonymous tips dropped below 60 percent for the first time since Navex began reporting the statistic in 2008, to 59 percent. The report speculated about potential reasons for the drop, including less concern about their job post-recession and more people feeling protected by whistleblower laws.