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Whistleblowing 2020 – declining confidence to speak up

As part as of our on-going review of whistleblowing culture over the years, we’ve gathered the views of over 2,500 individuals in the UK, US, Hong Kong, Germany and France to assess their attitudes towards whistleblowing, and to consider how these have changed since our last survey in 2017. ‘Freshfields whistleblowing survey 2020’ reveals that the trust in internal whistleblowing arrangements is trending downwards overall in comparison to our 2017 data.

Our survey shows that there has been a general decrease in those who have been involved in whistleblowing, as well as a decline in confidence with regards to support from senior management for those who do blow the whistle. The survey also considers the differences between jurisdictions and age groups, as well as looking at how attitudes towards anonymity, financial incentives and the effect of COVID-19 has shaped the thinking around whistleblowing.

As we gathered the data during the start of the pandemic, when widespread homeworking arrangements were in place for much of the global workforce, the survey offers a unique insight into the possible future trends for whistleblowing in our altered working environment. The survey data suggests that there is still work to do to strengthen corporate culture around this important aspect of risk management.