When Do Employees Blow the Whistle?

Here are some interesting numbers from the Ethics Resource Center’s National Business Ethics Survey:

65 – The percentage of employees who report misconduct they observe

Wait! First, do your employees know what conduct is right and wrong for your workplace?

18  Percentage of employees who don’t report because they don’t know who to contact

If your employees see something wrong, do they know who to call? Is there a hotline available?

59  Percentage of people who didn’t report misconduct because they felt no corrective action would take place

Do your employees feel lukewarm about your company’s commitment ethics and willingness to address misconduct? This reason is more common than the fear of retaliation (46 percent).

54  Percentage of nonmanagers who report misconduct

What does your company do to ensure the worker bee’s report will have the same impact as one made by the boss?

80  Percent reporting rate when employees feel strongly connected to work-support sources

Does your organization provide a culture of support? Co-workers, professional colleagues, company resources and public resources are all work-support sources.

So when do employees blow the whistle?

  • When they know what behaviors are considered misconduct
  • When they know how to report misconduct
  • When they know the report matters
  • When they know the company will do something about it
  • When they know they have support from others at work

Do you have a positive whistle-blowing culture? Take time to review your policies and ensure your organization specifically states what kinds of workplace behaviors are wrong. Management should walk the walk and talk the talk on ethical behavior. Make sure employees know what to do when they see misconduct, how to report it and what will happen to the report after the report is made. Appreciate employees who make reports. When you find misconduct, investigate and do something about it! Create value from the situation for your organization.

A positive whistle-blowing culture can be your best way to hear that whistle blow.

Learn more about whistle-blowers by viewing our recent webinar, Whistle-Blowers & Fraud Hotlines: Reporting & Preventing Fraud.


Julia is a director in BKD’s Forensics & Valuation Services division. She focuses on forensic accounting, fraud investigation, litigation support services and business valuation. With nearly 20 years of public accounting experience, Julia has gained a substantial background in both audit and tax services.

She has extensive experience in forensic services and litigation support. She has successfully worked with complex risk assessments and public corruption investigations, misappropriation of assets and fraudulent financial reports in a variety of industries, including health care, manufacturing, transportation, real estate, IT consulting, government and not-for-profit. Julia performs valuations for transactions, litigation, restructuring, marital dissolutions and income tax-related purposes.

Julia Mast – who has written posts on BKD Forensics.

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