BIZweek n°375 30 déc 2021
BIZweek n°375 30 déc 2021
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  • Parution : n°375 de 30 déc 2021

  • Périodicité : hebdomadaire

  • Editeur : Capital Publications Ltd

  • Format : (260 x 370) mm

  • Nombre de pages : 8

  • Taille du fichier PDF : 3 Mo

  • Dans ce numéro : rapport sur les lanceurs d'alerte 2021.

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JEUDI 30 DÉCEMBRE 2021 BIZWEEK ÉDITION 375 Since the EU Whistleblowing Directive was adopted in December 2019, the protection of whistleblowers has become considerably more important. EU members only had until 17 December 2021 to transpose EU requirements into national laws. Subsequently, companies with more than 250 employees will be required to establish reporting channels for internal and, optionally, external stakeholders. From 2023, the scheme will be extended to companies with more than 50 employees. However, protecting whistleblowers is much more than a regulatory obligation for companies ; it must be the aspiration of an ethical and sustainable corporate culture. Those who allow transparent communication in the company create trust internally and externally. It is already evident that companies that have established whistle blower reporting channels are able to identify risks at an early stage and thus avoid sanctions, fines and reputational damage. This year, the 2021 Whistleblowing Report (conducted as part of an applied research and development project of the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons (FHGR) in cooperation with EQS Group) examines how large and small companies use whistleblowing channels to prevent and uncover misconduct, what financial damage could be avoided as a result, and how relevant the reports made are. The risk of falling victim to illegal and unethical behaviour is real for European companies. Information from employees and other stakeholders is of great importance in order to prevent misconduct or to identify it at an early stage. The majority of the companies surveyed are aware of this and have already setup an internal whistleblowing system outside the chain of command. Nevertheless, many companies are unsure how to setup and design such a system in a targeted manner. In addition, the coronavirus pandemic and the EU Whistleblower Protection Directive present new tasks and challenges for corporate whistleblowing systems. The analyses are based on data from an online survey in which a total of 1,239 companies took part, of which 291 were from Germany, 338 from France, 296 from the United Kingdom and 314 from Switzerland. Around one third of the sample is madeup of smalland medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with 20 to 249 employees and the remaining two thirds is madeup of large companies with 250 or more employees. Sampling allows the results to be generalised to the two firmsize classes. Abuses occurred in a good third of the companies surveyed Illegal or unethical behaviour that violates applicable (legal) regulations or violates society‘s notions of ethics occurs in about one-in-three of the companies surveyed. The study shows that large companies and organisations operating abroad are more frequently affected by misconduct. Moreover, the statistical analyses show that although companies in Switzerland are less frequently affected by misconduct than companies in other countries, the proportion of financial damages of EUR 100,000 or more is highest there. A good LA TOUR WHISTLEBLOWING REPORT 2021 Protecting whistleblowers is much more than a regulatory obligation for companies The Whistleblowing Report 2021 highlights the indispensable contribution whistle blowers make towards detecting and preventing corporate wrongdoing. It’s hardly a surprise that more and more companies are introducing whistleblowing systems. Most of the companies surveyed are doing a lot of things right  : they offer a variety of (anonymous) reporting channels, independent advice, confidentiality with management and protection against reprisals. In fact, potential whistleblowers only use whistleblowing systems if they feel they can trust the contact persons involved and effect change. Above all, this requires a whistleblower-friendly corporate culture characterised by the ability to accept criticism and make mistakes. The Whistleblower Network therefore advises companies to provide regular training for their employees. If whistleblowing is sensibly integrated into the corporate culture and structure, whistleblowers will not turn to external (government) agencies in the vast majority of cases. It is promising that a large majority of the corporate executives surveyed support a right to public whistleblowing to the media in cases of significant government interest. Without courageous whistleblowers, society would often not learnof white-collar crime, as in the cases of CumEx and Wirecard, of structural deficits of state control bodies and of dangers to health, the environment and human rights. This report represents a valuable contribution to the debate on this socially significant but still sparsely researched topic half of the companies surveyed informtheir employees about the consequences of discovered misconduct. By contrast, the public is rarely informed. More than 60 percent of the companies surveyed have a whistleblowing system The companies surveyed use various instruments to prevent and detect illegal or unethical behaviour at an early stage. Across all countries, more than 60 percent of the companies surveyed have an office/channel outside the chain of command where whistleblowers can report specific or suspected misconduct. While a large proportion of large companies have setup a whistleblowing system, the proportion of SMEs with a whistleblowing system (still) tends to be lower, although it should be noted that UK SMEs have now largely closed ranks with UK large companies. It is also apparent that companies from the financial sector, in comparison to other sectors, as wellas companies active abroad, are more likely to have a whistleblowing system. The vast majority of companies with a whistleblowing system are convinced of how useful and effective it is The companies interviewed had various reasons for settingup a whistleblowing system. The top three reasons for introducing a whistleblowing system are that companies are convinced of the benefits and effectiveness while it should help to strengthen the company‘s image as an ethical organisation with integrity. Furthermore, companies see the opportunity to improve themselves through the incoming reports. 4 Cont’d on page 5
JEUDI 30 DÉCEMBRE 2021 BIZWEEK ÉDITION 375 By contrast, the companies surveyed that have not (yet) established a whistleblowing system cite the following main reasons for this. On the one hand, they emphasise that they already have a strong culture of integrity ; on the other hand, they argue that there is no legal obligation to introduce a whistle blowing system. It is also stressed that human resources are already stretched elsewhere. It therefore seems logical that just under a quarter of the companies surveyed without a whistleblowing system state that they would only introduce one if they were legally obliged to do so. On average, whistleblowers have two to three channels at their disposal for contacting the companies surveyed that have a whistleblowing system The design of a whistleblowing system is important for its successful operation. In the investigated whistleblowing systems, the whistleblowers generally have two to three different channels at their disposal through which the internal whistleblowing system can be contacted. For companies, employees are by far the most important target group of the whistleblowing system, with on average one to two different stakeholder groups being entitled to file reports. In more than half of the companies surveyed with a whistleblowing system, whistleblowers can submit their reports without revealing their identity,i.e. anonymously ; in contrast, the figure for French companies is less than 50 percent. In addition, in France, the UK and Switzerland, about two-thirds of the whistleblowing systems have the power to grant interim protection against dismissal to whistleblowers. In Germany, this is the case in a good half of the companies. The analysed companies with a whistleblowing system received an average of 34 reports in 2020 While in France, the UK and Switzerland less than half of the investigated whistleblowing systems received tips in 2020, the share at the German whistleblowing systems is over 50 percent. On average, 34 reports were received by the whistleblowing systems last year, with large companies and internationally active companies receiving more reports. It also shows that companies with a more sophisticated reporting system also received more reports. Here, sophistication of the whistleblowing system is measured by the number of available reporting channels as wellas the age of the whistleblowing system. More reports are also being submitted by companies in the logistics, public sector and financial sectors. A comparison over time shows that from 2018 to 2020, the number of reports received by whistleblowing systems in France and the UK decreased significantly more than in Germany and Switzerland. Approximately one third of the companies investigated were able to uncover more than 80 percent of the total financial loss with the help of a whistleblowing system As the results of this study show, companies benefit from their whistleblowing system in both financial and non-financial terms. On the one hand, in 2020 around one third of the companies investigated were able to uncover more than 80 percent of the total financial damage caused by misconduct thanks to the whistleblowing system. On the other hand, the companies surveyed also achieved non-monetary benefits as a result of the whistleblowing system. The top three non-financial impacts include a better understanding of compliance among employees, the improvement of processes and the strengthening of integrity, as wellas the professionalization of the compliance system or compliance management. Impact of the coronavirus pandemic  : Companies that dismiss employees or whose employees work from home have an increased risk of misconduct and receive more reports Compared to 2018, companies received significantly fewer Communication of the consequences ofrnisconduct To whom do companies cornmunicate the conséquences of discovered misconduct ? F5% 0% LA TOUR 382% 262% 30.7% 25% 12 g 55.5% 33_6 1.5%i 50.7% 54_0% 52.0% 5139 To rio one Ta the whieleblower la the employees 1 Germany France United Kingdom Switzerland It esena une. aieeecernemarea ceerealdo. » Whistleblowing Report 2021 « Germany Frange United Kingdom Saiteertaexl reports in 2020. This is likely to be due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to certain dysfunctionalities in processes and structures, including those related to whistleblowing systems. It is assumedthat there was only limited access to information due to the lack of informal exchange or that reports were not made due to (time) resources being used elsewhere. The results of the study show that the likelihood of being affected by misconduct is higher in companies where there have been coronavirus-related staff reductions or where a large proportion of employees have worked from home. These companies also received more reports. It is interesting to note that opposing trends can be observed here  : While companies where a medium proportion (between 34% and 66%) of employees worked from home were at increased risk of illegal or unethical behaviour, the number of reports was lower in companies where the majority of employees (> 66%) worked from home. Other coronavirus-related measures, such as reduced working hours or the restricted possibility of both national and international business trips, on the other hand, show no statistically significant correlation with the number of grievances in companies. ja 1 43% To the public Elasis:All ciarnpanies What measures do companies use to prevent and detectrnisconduct ? Maar annal tramrmement Gode d Gemclect Internai aeat Extemal au « Becte...c.:Wb anaryall tank latetleblemtp system 45.5% 51.1% 58.5% 55.1% 54.1% 63.2% 902% 66.1% 61.3% 612% 69.6% 65.3% 70.1% 7E2% 71.4% 609% 65.3% 517% 73.0% sairr. 07.3% 01.9% TM% 7E13% 07.3% 4E1% 86.7% 64.8% Cre. 20% dr% Mei Ba% 1ne% Yas compnme-s Figure 16 Mevsrrres tu grevant mur detert ilieguio unethiour Soi% 096&r with a country rorriperison Conclusion The results of the 2021 Whistleblowing Report showed that more whistleblowing occurred in companies where there were pandemic layoffs and they received more reports. Unethical and illegal behaviour occurred more frequently in companies that were in economic difficulties due to the pandemic. Employees committed misconduct because they had the impression that their company would otherwise not be able to « make ends meet » and that jobs could be at risk. The 2021 Whistleblowing Report confirms once again that the abuse of reporting channels is the absolute exception. Not eveneight percent of the reports received in 2020 can be classified as abusive. On the other hand, there are a large number of reports that reveal concrete misconduct within the company. Just under half of all reports received relate to compliance-related violations. The other information reports potential for improvement in other areas, for example in technical support or personnel management. Similarly, the possibility of reporting anonymously does not encourage an increase in abusive reporting. On average, companies received 34 reports per year. 5

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