Whistleblowing Benchmark Report 2024 – Key Insights

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Whistleblowing charts and data

Whistleblowing continues to play a crucial role in exposing misconduct within organisations. The recent trends in whistleblowing reports, evidenced in our Safecall Whistleblowing Benchmark Report 2024, shed light on significant areas of concern, including:

  • modern slavery
  • risk-taking behaviours
  • deteriorating corporate governance
  • substance abuse
  • bullying

This article explores these trends and underscores the importance of fostering a culture of transparency and accountability within organisations.

Modern Slavery on the radar

Modern slavery has emerged as a statistically significant area of concern within organisations for the first time in our Whistleblowing Benchmark Report.

There has been growing concern amongst UK businesses regarding modern slavery over the past year, and the findings of our Benchmark Report support this as an issue.

Construction companies, in particular, have been identified as hotspots for reports surrounding modern slavery. Whistleblowing processes have been extended into supply chains in many national jurisdictions. This now means organisations must also take proactive measures to identify and eradicate these exploitative practices from their supply chains, and a crucial first step is through facilitating the reporting of suspected wrongdoing at the ground level.

Continuation of Risk-Taking Behaviours

Misconduct related to “risk-taking” behaviours remains a pressing issue.

Instances of regulatory non-compliance and GDPR violations, have been observed. This trend highlights the need for organisations to enhance their corporate governance practices and ensure strict adherence to regulations. It is crucial to address the root causes of these behaviours and establish a culture that prioritises ethical decision-making.

Deteriorating Corporate Governance

Although it is evident that companies should be focusing on their corporate governance now more than ever, reports indicate a decline in adherence to corporate governance.

Misconduct is reaching all levels within organisations, including management. This includes instances of behaviour such as money laundering and suspected shirking of regulatory obligations.

Organisations need to continue the prioritisation of establishing robust internal controls to prevent further deterioration and promote ethical conduct.

Substance Abuse in the Workplace

The return of workers to the office has seen a concerning rise in reports of substance abuse.

Pre-COVID, reports indicated that 30% of ‘Health and Safety’ whistleblowing cases were related to substance abuse. While the rate temporarily decreased during the pandemic, it has risen back to 20% by 2023.

Organisations should implement and enforce comprehensive substance abuse prevention and support programs to address this growing issue and ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

As more workers return to their offices or work sites, it could be that reports pertaining to substance abuse are returning to pre-COVID levels due to increased visibility of the issue.

Bullying on the rise

Moreover, as employees return to the office, reports of workplace bullying have seen a concerning increase.

Instances of bullying are harder to identify, or indeed less common, when organisations are operating remotely, so it is crucial for organisations to foster open lines of communication and provide confidential channels for employees to report instances of bullying. This includes facilitating communication with management to address concerns and create a supportive work environment at all levels of the organisation.

Increased Reports per Person

The number of reports per person has seen a notable increase, indicating growing trust in external whistleblowing services like Safecall.

Conversely, this shift towards reaching out externally to report wrongdoing may bely a decrease in trust in internal reporting methods.

This shift highlights the importance of creating a culture that encourages and protects whistleblowers, and facilitates true reporting avenue choice. This in turn leads to better employee engagement and the opportunity to mitigate issues within the workplace. Organisations must focus on building trust and ensuring the effectiveness of their reporting mechanisms.

Despite the availability of digital reporting channels, one in three individuals still prefer to report concerns via telephone.

Firms that fail to facilitate this option might be missing out on valuable reports. Many people feel more comfortable speaking to a person directly, and this highlights the importance of providing a human touch in whistleblowing solutions.

Our Whistleblowing Benchmark Report shows 22.7% more whistleblowers choose to give their name to Safecall when talking directly to one of our call handlers than when reporting via written methods, demonstrating the higher levels of trust engendered by this reporting avenue.

Enhanced triage processes

Organisations’ commitment to adhering to the standards set out by the EU Whistleblowing Directive has led to more effective triaging and improved understanding of what constitutes a legitimate whistleblowing report.

Employees and report recipients are now better educated on distinguishing between bona fide whistleblowing concerns and workplace grievances.

This could be the explanation for a significant decrease in reports classified as “unfair treatment”, a categorisation often associated with reports that are more tentatively considered whistleblowing reports.

Reports treated as ‘No Further Action’ have risen significantly whereas those labelled ‘Unsubstantiated’ have decreased from a 53% to a 31% share.

This shift demonstrates that individuals are using the reporting service and triage process more accurately.

Rising reporting rates in specific industries

Not-for-profit (NFP) organisations are witnessing a consistent rise in reporting rates.

While this may indicate a concern within the industry, it could also suggest positive levels of engagement and cultures that encourage speaking up. NFP organisations should take note and ensure they have strong processes in place to address any potential issues.

In the manufacturing industry, sharp increases in reporting rates raise concerns about operational risks such as product contamination and health and safety.

Organisations in this sector must remain vigilant and establish robust systems to protect employees, supply chains, and consumers from any potential harm.


The trends identified in our Whistleblowing Benchmark Report offer some key insights into shifts in operations and attitudes in the whistleblowing landscape.

The continued uptake for telephone reporting highlights the importance of providing a human touch in whistleblowing services, and highlights just how many valuable reports organisations could be missing through failing to provide an anonymous oral reporting solution.

There has been improved understanding and utilisation of whistleblowing services by organisations and employees, which is potentially attributable to awareness brought about by the EU Whistleblowing Directive.

The rising reporting rates in certain industries could indicate the need for increased vigilance and proactive measures to address potential risks…conversely, the increase in uptake could denote a rise of employee confidence and a cultural shift towards whistleblowing within those industries.

Organisations should actively address misconduct at all levels.

In a time of socio-economic instability, against a landscape that is increasingly focused on ethical practices and corporate governance, it is key to ensure that your organisation is doing all it can to identify and mitigate potential wrongdoing and risk-taking.

By embracing whistleblowing solutions and continuously improving their processes, organisations can strengthen trust, protect their reputation, and create a more ethical work environment.

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