Whistleblowing Report: Misconduct in nearly 39 per cent of companies

DGAP-Media / 15.05.2019 / 11:00

39 per cent of companies in Germany, Switzerland, France and Great Britain experienced misconduct such as tax fraud, money laundering or sexual harassment in 2018. This is according to the "Whistleblowing Report 2019" which draws upon a survey of 1,392 companies with more than 20 employees across these four countries.

This international study was conducted by the University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur and the Munich-based technology provider EQS Group. The results show that misconduct was most prevalent in large companies with more than 249 employees. German companies were the most frequently affected by misconduct at 43 percent, followed by the British (40 percent), French (38 percent) and finally companies headquartered in Switzerland (35 percent). Of these companies, 17 per cent estimated the financial damage resulting from misconduct to have been more than EUR100,000. Financial risk mitigation was in fact stated as being one of the main reasons for setting up internal reporting systems along with protection against reputational damage.

Only 59 per cent of companies have reporting systems

Against the background of the EU directive on whistleblower protection, adopted by the European Parliament in April, it is interesting to note that in Germany (56%) and France (53%) only about half of companies have a reporting system. In Great Britain and Switzerland , the adoption rate is slightly higher (both 65%). The directive will mark a significant change, requiring that all companies with more than 50 employees have a system in place. In the sector comparison, banks and insurance companies are those most likely to have reporting channels for whistleblowers.

On average, the companies with a system in place offer potential whistleblowers three ways of contacting the relevant department. In addition to general reporting channels (personal meetings, letters, telephone, fax and e-mail), specialised channels are also provided. These include hotlines and web-based systems. In Great Britain, companies with a system in place have set up a hotline (45%) and/or a web-based whistleblower channel (39%) more frequently than in the three other countries. By contrast, in Germany, web-based systems are still the least widespread with a share of only 24%.

Reporting systems are first and foremost for employees. In more than half of companies, customers and suppliers can also point out illegal or unethical actions. The systems are only however available to the general public in about one in five companies.
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