Firms ignore signs of bad work ethics

UK firms are neglecting early-warning signs of corporate wrongdoing,
research by the Work Foundation finds.

It claims UK companies are neglecting vital safeguards that could prevent
illegal or unethical business behaviour as happened in the WorldCom and Enron

The foundation’s latest survey finds that many UK employers are failing to
provide adequate internal ‘whistleblowing’ channels for their employees to
raise concerns about bad behaviour – such as fraud or other financial
malpractice – at work.

The survey of 281 organisations shows that even among firms with
whistleblowing policies, many are suspicious of employees contacting prescribed
external regulators with their concerns – although this is expressly protected
by the law and encouraged by statutory bodies, such as the Financial Services

Only one in three (32 per cent) private sector firms have introduced formal
whistleblowing policies, compared to three-quarters (75 per cent) of firms in
the public or voluntary sectors.

Theo Blackwell, chief policy specialist at the Work Foundation, said:
"We would like to see the DTI taking the lead in promoting whistleblowing
policies as an effective tool for corporate governance. As the recent US scandals
reveal, employees can play a vital role in upholding good corporate governance,
highlighting potential problems and maintaining organisational ethics."

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