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SHRM Poll: Organizational Whistle-blowing—Reporting Unethical and Illegal Behavior in the Workplace. March 25, 2011. Key Findings.

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shrm poll organizational whistle blowing reporting unethical and illegal behavior in the workplace

SHRM Poll: Organizational Whistle-blowing—Reporting Unethical and Illegal Behavior in the Workplace

March 25, 2011

key findings
Key Findings
  • How do organizations inform employees about how to report unethical and/or illegal behavior? The top two methods that organizations use to let their employees know how to report unethical and/or illegal behavior are the employee handbook/company intranet (85%) and new-employee orientation (70%).
  • What channels do organizations use for reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior? Among organizations that encourage specific methods for reporting questionable behavior, the vast majority encourage employees to contact HR (85%). The next two most frequently offered channels for reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior are contacting the reporting employee’s direct supervisor (65%) and contacting other senior management (53%). About two out of five organizations (41%) offer an ethics hotline as a channel for reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior within the organization.
  • How do organizations respond to reports of unethical and/or illegal behavior? More than four out of five organizations (83%) indicated that all reported allegations are investigated, and 17% indicated that reported allegations are investigated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Who investigates reports of unethical behavior or illegal activity? The largest percentage of respondents indicated that HR investigates reported unethical behavior (89%) and illegal activity (86%). The next most often cited responsibility for investigating reported unethical behavior and illegal activity is senior management (53% and 56%, respectively).
slide3
How does your organization generally inform employees about how to report unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Note: n = 356. Percentages do not total 100% due to multiple response options. Excludes responses of “N/A, my organization does not currently have a formal communication method regarding this type of reporting." ”During employee training" and “in policies in addition to employee handbook documentation" were recoded from write-in responses for "other."

slide4
How does your organization generally inform employees about how to report unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

slide5
How does your organization generally inform employees about how to report unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics (continued)

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

slide6
What methods does your organization encourage employees to use when reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Note: n = 361. Percentages do not total 100% due to multiple response options. Excludes responses of “N/A, there are no specific methods that employees are encouraged to use to report unethical or illegal behavior.”

slide7
What methods does your organization encourage employees to use when reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Comparison by Organization Staff Size

  • Using the organization’s ethics hotline (by staff size): In general, the larger the organization staff size, the more likely organizations are to encourage the use of the organization’s ethics hotline. Larger organizations (those with 2,500 or more employees) were more likely than smaller organizations (those with 2,499 or fewer employees) to report that they encourage employees to contact the organization’s ethics hotline.
  • Contacting the organization’s ethics officer, compliance officer, audit function or organizational ombudsman (by staff size): Larger organizations (those with 2,500 or more employees) were more likely than smaller organizations (those with 1 to 99 employees) to report that they encourage employees to contact the organization’s ethics officer, compliance officer, audit function or organizational ombudsman to report unethical and’/or illegal behavior.
slide8
What methods does your organization encourage employees to use when reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Comparison by Organization Staff Size (continued)

  • Contacting the organization’s legal counsel (by staff size): Larger organizations (those with 2,500 to 24,999 employees) were more likely than smaller organizations (1 to 99 employees) to report that they that they encourage employees to contact the organization’s legal counsel.
slide9
What methods does your organization encourage employees to use when reporting unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

slide10
Generally, how does or would your organization respond to reports of unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Note: n = 358 . Excludes responses of “not sure/don’t know.”

slide11
Generally, how does or would your organization respond to reports of unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

slide12
Generally, who investigates (or would investigate) reports of unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Note: Percentages do not total 100% due to multiple response options.

generally who investigates or would investigate reports of unethical behavior in your organization
Generally, who investigates (or would investigate) reports of unethical behavior in your organization?

Unethical Behavior: Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

generally who investigates or would investigate reports of unethical behavior in your organization14
Generally, who investigates (or would investigate) reports of unethical behavior in your organization?

Unethical Behavior: Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics (continued)

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

generally who investigates or would investigate reports of illegal behavior in your organization
Generally, who investigates (or would investigate) reports of illegal behavior in your organization?

Illegal Behavior: Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

generally who investigates or would investigate reports of illegal behavior in your organization16
Generally, who investigates (or would investigate) reports of illegal behavior in your organization?

Illegal Behavior: Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics (continued)

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

slide17

Does (or would) your organization award financial incentives  (e.g., spot awards, bonuses) to employees who report unethical and/or illegal behavior in your organization?

Note: n = 336. Excludes responses of “not sure.”

slide18

During the past 12 months, have you personally observed misconduct that you thought violated your organization’s ethics standards, company policy or the law?

Note: n = 372. Excludes responses of “not sure.”

slide19

Has your organization implemented policy and procedural changes related to whistle-blowing on unethical and/or illegal behavior in the past 12 months or is it planning to in the next 12 months?

Note: n = 321. Excludes responses of “not sure.” Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.

slide20

Has your organization implemented policy and procedural changes related to whistle-blowing on unethical and/or illegal behavior in the past 12 months or is it planning to in the next 12 months?

Comparison by Selected Organizational Demographics

Note: Blank cells indicate that there were no significant differences in this category.

demographics organization industry
Demographics: Organization Industry

Note: n = 374. Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.

demographics organization industry continued
Demographics: Organization Industry (continued)

Note: n = 374. Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.

demographics organization sector
Demographics: Organization Sector

Note: n = 352. Excludes “other” organization sectors.

demographics organization staff size
Demographics: Organization Staff Size

Note: n = 349. Percentages do not total 100% due to rounding.

demographics other
Demographics: Other

Does organization have U.S.-based

operations (business units) only or

does it operate multinationally?

Is your organization a single-unit company or a multi-unit company?

Note: n = 385

Note: n = 384

  • 15% of organizations indicated that employees at their work location were unionized.

Are HR policies and practices determined by the multi-unit corporate headquarters, by each work location or both?

Note: n = 374

Note: n = 274

shrm poll organizational whistle blowing reporting unethical and illegal behavior in the workplace26
SHRM Poll: Organizational Whistle-blowing—Reporting Unethical and Illegal Behavior in the Workplace

Methodology

  • Response rate = 15%
  • Sample comprises 390 HR professionals randomly selected from SHRM’s membership.
  • Margin of error is +/- 5%
  • Survey fielded January 6-14, 2011

For more poll findings, visit: www.shrm.org/surveys

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/SHRM_Research