Whistleblowing is an act of reporting misconduct, fraud, or illegal activities that are taking place within an organization. It is a process of exposing such activities to the authorities or the public in the interest of the greater good.
Whistleblowers play a crucial role in upholding the integrity and accountability of organizations, and their actions can result in significant consequences for both the whistleblowers and the organizations they expose.
In this blog post, we will be discussing 100 whistleblowing statistics that shed light on the prevalence and impact of whistleblowing in various industries.
Key Whistleblowing Statistics 2023 – MY Choice
- In 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) received 6,900 whistleblower tips, an increase of 31% from the previous year.
- The largest whistleblower award to date was $114 million, given by the SEC in 2020 to an individual who provided information about misconduct at a financial services firm.
- According to a survey by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, tips from whistleblowers are the most common way that fraud is detected, accounting for 43% of all fraud discoveries.
- In 2019, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General received 1,143 new whistleblower complaints, and recovered $3.6 billion as a result of those complaints.
- In 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) paid out $312,207,590 in whistleblower rewards, up from $33.9 million in 2017.
- A study by the Ethics Resource Center found that companies with strong whistleblower programs were much more likely to detect and address misconduct than those without such programs.
- The percentage of whistleblowers who experience retaliation from their employer varies depending on the study, but one survey found that 22% of whistleblowers reported being fired or demoted as a result of their disclosures.
- In the United States, the False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to receive a reward of between 15-30% of the amount recovered by the government as a result of their information.
- The average time it takes for a whistleblower case to be resolved in the United States is 6 years, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office.
- In 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice recovered $3 billion in settlements and judgments from cases involving fraud against the government, many of which were initiated by whistleblowers.
Importance of Whistleblowing
- Whistleblowing can save lives: Whistleblowers can report safety violations that can potentially save lives.
- Whistleblowing can prevent fraud: Whistleblowers can report fraudulent activities that can prevent financial losses.
- Whistleblowing can lead to positive change: Whistleblowers can bring attention to unethical practices and can lead to positive changes in an organization.
- Whistleblowing can protect the public: Whistleblowers can report activities that can harm the public and protect them from harm.
- Whistleblowing can protect the environment: Whistleblowers can report activities that can harm the environment and protect it from harm.
- Whistleblower protection laws vary by country: Whistleblower protection laws vary widely by country and can affect whether employees are willing to come forward with information.
- Whistleblower protection laws can be weak: Whistleblower protection laws can be weak in some countries, leaving employees vulnerable to retaliation.
- Whistleblower protection laws can be strong: Some countries have strong whistleblower protection laws that can protect employees from retaliation.
- Whistleblower protection laws can cover different types of disclosures: Whistleblower protection laws can cover different types of disclosures, such as reporting illegal activities, safety violations, and environmental concerns.
- Whistleblower protection laws can protect anonymous whistleblowers: Some whistleblower protection laws allow anonymous reporting to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
Whistleblowing in the Workplace
- 44% of employees are afraid of retaliation for whistleblowing.
- 40% of whistleblowers experience some form of retaliation.
- Only 30% of whistleblowers receive a positive outcome from their report.
- The most common form of retaliation is being fired or demoted.
- 46% of whistleblowers lose their job within 12 months of reporting.
- 33% of whistleblowers experience harassment or intimidation.
- 62% of whistleblowers experience stress and anxiety.
- 24% of whistleblowers experience financial hardship.
- 15% of whistleblowers suffer from depression.
- 7% of whistleblowers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Whistleblowers can face retaliation: Whistleblowers can face retaliation from their employers, such as termination, demotion, or harassment.
- Whistleblower retaliation can be illegal: Retaliation against whistleblowers is illegal in many countries, but it still occurs.
- Whistleblower retaliation can be subtle: Retaliation against whistleblowers can be subtle, such as exclusion from meetings or assignments.
- Whistleblower retaliation can be severe: Retaliation against whistleblowers can be severe, such as physical harm or blacklisting.
- Whistleblower retaliation can discourage others from coming forward: Whistleblower retaliation
Prevalence of Whistleblowing
- Over 40% of employees who witness misconduct in the workplace choose to remain silent (NAVEX Global)
- Only 16% of whistleblowers report misconduct to external authorities (Association of Certified Fraud Examiners)
- 69% of employees who report misconduct do so directly to their immediate supervisor (NAVEX Global)
- 41% of whistleblowers experience retaliation from their employers (Ethics Resource Center)
- In 2019, the US Securities and Exchange Commission received 5,212 whistleblower tips, a record high (SEC)
Impact of Whistleblowing
- Whistleblowers save the US government billions of dollars each year (Government Accountability Project)
- Whistleblowers helped to uncover the Volkswagen emissions scandal in 2015 (National Whistleblower Center)
- The average whistleblower waits 2 years for a resolution of their case (National Whistleblower Center)
- Whistleblowers who report securities fraud are eligible for a reward of between 10% and 30% of the amount recovered (SEC)
- Whistleblowing can lead to positive changes in organizational culture (Ethics Resource Center)
Legal Protections for Whistleblowers
- Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under the False Claims Act, which covers fraud against the government (Government Accountability Project)
- The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provides protections for whistleblowers who report securities fraud (SEC)
- The Sarbanes-Oxley Act provides protections for whistleblowers who report financial misconduct (National Whistleblower Center)
- Whistleblowers are protected from retaliation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act
Whistleblowing and Ethics
21. 62% of employees would report unethical behavior if they could do it anonymously.
- 41% of employees have witnessed unethical behavior in the workplace.
- 72% of employees believe that it is important to report unethical behavior.
- 84% of employees believe that companies have a responsibility to prevent unethical behavior.
- 43% of employees have seen their colleagues ignore unethical behavior.
- 49% of employees believe that their company’s code of conduct is not upheld.
- Only 30% of companies have a whistleblower hotline.
- 23% of employees are not familiar with their company’s whistleblowing policy.
- Employees are more likely to report unethical behavior if they trust their company’s leadership.
- 57% of employees believe that their company takes whistleblowing seriously.
Whistleblowing and Financial Fraud
- The most common type of fraud reported by whistleblowers is financial fraud.
- The median amount recovered in financial fraud cases is $8.8 million.
- The average whistleblower award for reporting financial fraud is $5.3 million.
- The SEC received 6,900 whistleblower tips in 2020.
- The SEC awarded $175 million to whistleblowers in 2020.
- The top three industries for SEC whistleblower tips are finance, commodities, and securities.
- The CFTC received 702 whistleblower tips in 2020.
- The CFTC awarded $1.1 million to whistleblowers in 2020.
- The most common violation reported by CFTC whistleblowers
Whistleblowers Increased Transparency
- Whistleblowers can help uncover wrongdoing that might otherwise go unnoticed, such as corruption, fraud, or safety violations.
- Whistleblowing can lead to improved transparency within an organization, which can increase public trust and enhance the organization’s reputation.
The Challenges of Whistleblowing
While whistleblowing can have significant benefits, there are also challenges associated with the process. Here are some statistics that highlight the challenges of whistleblowing:
Whistleblowers Fear of Retaliation
- 60% of whistleblowers experience retaliation, such as job loss, demotion, or harassment, as a result of their disclosure (National Business Ethics Survey).
- Only 21% of employees who witness misconduct in the workplace report it, with fear of retaliation being the primary reason for not reporting (NAVEX Global).
- 44% of employees who have reported misconduct in the workplace have experienced some form of retaliation (Ethics & Compliance Initiative).
Lack of Support
- Only 40% of whistleblowers receive support from their employer after reporting misconduct (National Business Ethics Survey).
- 69% of employees who witnessed misconduct in the workplace did not receive support from their employer (NAVEX Global).
- Whistleblowers are often ostracized by their colleagues and may have difficulty finding new employment (The Guardian).
whistleblowing can have significant impacts on organizations and society as a whole. It serves as a critical tool in identifying and addressing wrongdoing, corruption, and unethical behavior. With the rise of digital platforms and increased awareness of whistleblower protections, more individuals are coming forward with information, leading to a significant increase in reports and investigations.
As demonstrated by the statistics presented above, whistleblowing has become more prevalent in recent years, and organizations must take steps to foster a culture of transparency, trust, and accountability. Implementing robust whistleblowing policies and procedures, providing education and training to employees, and establishing channels for anonymous reporting can help organizations promote ethical behavior, prevent fraud and misconduct, and protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
It is also essential for policymakers to continue to strengthen and enforce whistleblower protections, ensuring that those who report wrongdoing are not only protected but also encouraged to come forward. As whistleblowing continues to play a critical role in uncovering and preventing corruption and unethical behavior, it is crucial that organizations and individuals alike recognize its importance and work together to create a safer, more ethical world.