Majority of British managers still fear whistleblowing would harm their career, survey finds

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Some managers still fear blowing the whistle will harm their reputation (Source: Getty)

British managers are among the most fearful of damage to their career if they blow the whistle on misconduct in their office, a survey published today reveals.

Some 58 per cent of UK managers said whistleblowing could damage their career prospects or reputation, according to the poll by law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.

Whistleblowing has risen up the agenda for firms as regulators have increased their scrutiny of policies. For the last year banks have been forced to appoint a senior manager as a “whistleblowing champion”.

Read more: Barclays boss Jes Staley quizzed by regulators over whistleblowing probe

The proportion of managers witnessing or engaging with whistleblowers has risen sharply, according to the survey of 2,500 managers across the US, UK , Hong Kong and Europe. Almost half now say they have been involved in whistleblowing in one way or another, up from just over a third in a comparable study carried out in 2014.

Yet problems still remain for the practice, particularly around anonymous whistleblowing. Some 55 per cent of managers claimed that they and their co-workers would be deterred from whistleblowing by concerns that they would not remain nameless.

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley is currently the subject of investigations from UK and US regulators after allegedly trying to identify a whistleblower who sent anonymous letters to board members last year.

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A proper whistleblowing culture should now be considered as a “valuable asset” for businesses, according to Adam Siegel, a Freshfields partner and co-head of its global investigations practice.

“It can make the difference between learning about a problem when you still have the opportunity to address and remediate the situation and not discovering it until the regulator comes knocking on your door.”

Caroline Stroud, a partner and global head of Freshfields’ people and reward practice, said: “While it is encouraging to see that there has been a positive shift in attitudes towards whistleblowing in our latest survey, it is clear that there is some way to go before it is perceived to be a fully accepted part of workplace culture.”

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