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Whistleblowing reports increasing in workplaces as modern slavery escalates

Discover the latest insights from a new report highlighting the increasing trend of whistleblowing reports across the UK and Europe.

The number of whistleblowing reports across the UK and Europe continues to rise with modern slavery emerging as an issue among organisations, according to a new report.

Whistleblowing continues to play a crucial role in exposing misconduct within organisations with areas of concern including risk-taking behaviours, deteriorating corporate governance, substance abuse and bullying.

However, it is the issue of modern slavery that stands out as a matter of concern.* It is the first time that modern slavery has appeared as a statistically significant area of concern within organisations since the report started in 2019.

Report author Greg Ogle, Operational Excellence Manager at Safecall, said: “There has been growing concern among UK businesses regarding modern slavery over the past year, and the findings of our Benchmark Report support this as an issue. Construction companies have been identified as hotspots for reports surrounding modern slavery.

“It should be noted that the emergence of modern slavery reports does not mean it has suddenly become an issue for the first time, rather it is an indication of a growth in awareness and confidence in raising such concerns.”

He added that whistleblowing requirements have been extended to supply chains in many national legal frameworks. This means that organisations must take proactive measures to identify and eradicate these exploitative practices from their supply chains.

The annual Safecall Benchmark Report highlights the rise in reporting rates, the trends, and areas of reported wrongdoing in different sectors. The data contained within this annual report – based on anonymised data from more than 1,000 organisations with over five million people in total – is aimed at helping companies and organisations understand the trends in misconduct.

During 2023 there was a sharp increase in the share of reports from the education sector, and the logistics and manufacturing sectors. Safecall observed a decrease in reports from the construction and healthcare sectors.

The post-pandemic environment has accelerated greater awareness and appreciation of whistleblowing. In turn, this is driving a worldwide growth of this specialist business sector.

Safecall’s Greg Ogle, said: “There are many factors associated with an effective whistleblowing management system. Working across an extensive client base, in more than 130 countries, we have established best practice guidance to help organisations get the most from their whistleblowing arrangements.”

While legislation (notably the EU Whistleblowing Directive) and compliance are among the drivers of change, many businesses and organisations are discovering that whistleblowing improves workplace environments, in turn helping employees feel respected, experiencing benefits to their overall wellbeing.

Greg explained that more employees are being encouraged and empowered to do the right thing and report wrongdoing at work; likewise, more employers are recognising the ethical benefits of supporting staff to report wrongdoing safely.

Greg Ogle explained, that with an increased awareness surrounding whistleblowing and confidential reporting, led by the EU Whistleblowing Directive, external reporting facilities are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Provision of a whistleblowing hotline is still key for organisations that want to capture as many reports as possible from their employees and stakeholders.

Joanna Lewis added: “Implementing a whistleblowing hotline optimises trust in your organisation and ensures your whistleblowing policy has true reporting channel choice. By offering a choice to your employees when they make a report, your organisation can demonstrate your commitment to combatting wrongdoing and empowering the voices of your employees.

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