A major new study shows Europe has fallen behind other regions in several important whistleblowing indicators. The study confirms the extent to which managers silence and punish workers who expose corruption – and the urgent need for European countries to comply with a new EU law on whistleblower protection.
Employees in Europe report misconduct at a rate of just 0.5 per 100, which is lowest of any region and one-third of the rate in North America (1.5 per 100 employees). This is according to an analysis of 1.4 million reports received last year by Oregon-based NAVEX Global, the world’s largest provider of whistleblower hotlines.
NAVEX, which has 14,000 hotline customers in Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, released the data in its 2020 Regional Whistleblowing Hotline Benchmark Report.
Among other significant findings:
- 11% of all reports in Europe were about harassment, nearly triple the level in North America (4%.) Retaliation reports were almost twice as likely to be substantiated in Europe (42%) than in North America (24%).
- The average length of time to close a case in Europe was higher than any other region – 83 days, compared to 69 days in Asia-Pacific/Middle East and 43 days in North America.
- Europe had the highest percentage of reports related to business integrity – 31%, up from 22% in 2018.
- Europe had the lowest rate of anonymous disclosures (52%), showing the need to rescind retrograde laws banning reporting crime and corruption anonymously.
- Europe fared well in terms of disclosures that were substantiated – tied with North America at 44%. This narrowly trailed South America and Asia-Pacific/Middle East.
Taken together, NAVEX’s findings suggest Europeans relatively are more timid or frightened to report misconduct, more likely to be harassed, better at documenting retaliation, more likely to report company fraud, and less likely to have their case resolved in a timely manner. At the same time, reports from Europeans typically have a high degree of credibility and merit.
This supporting evidence is a major boost to the ongoing campaign to ensure all 27 EU countries firmly comply with the new EU Directive on whistleblower protection. The campaign is being co-led by Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and three international NGOs – the National Whistleblower Center, Whistleblowing International, and the European Center for Whistleblower Rights. The groups also are urging EU countries to financially incentivize citizens to report financial fraud, money laundering, foreign bribery, ocean pollution, tax evasion and other crimes.