21 November 2018

Whistleblower cases end rather badly…for the whistleblower

81% of whistleblowers find negative impacts as a result of whistleblowing faccording to new Australian research.

Despite professional organisations support having whistleblowing policies in place, whistleblowers themselves are often treated badly, according to researchers at the Griffith University and Governance Institute.

Ending badly

In the report ‘The Whistling While They Work 2: Improving Managerial Responses to Whistleblowing in Public and Private Organisations,’ researchers argue their findings suggest federal protection laws are needed for whistleblowers.  Findings reveal 42 per cent of whistleblowers are treated badly by their organisations and 81 per cent of whistleblowing cases resulted in negative repercussions. These findings, Governance Institute said in a statement, support its Ethics Index published earlier this year, where they stated 87 per cent of Australians see whistleblower protections as being very important. Governance Institute acting CEO Meegan George said, ‘whistleblower protection was one of the top-ranking ethical issues in the Governance Institute Ethics Index 2018. With new whistleblowing legislation already introduced to federal parliament, and in light of the banking royal commission, organisations need a clear understanding of the best approaches to take to protect whistleblowers.’

Managing effectively

The report also states that where organisations are more effectively managing whistleblowing internally, there appears to be reduced repercussions for whistleblowers. Mrs George explains, ‘whistleblower protection needs to be understood at a cultural level across every organisation. A robust whistleblowing process that makes employees feel comfortable with reporting wrongdoing is critical to build an ethical culture that supports strong corporate outcomes.’ Ms George added, ‘the earlier the risk is assessed, the better the treatment of whistleblowers. We’re all responsible for raising critical red flags. This requires an open, honest relationship between whistleblowers and their managers.’