Ethical reports plunge in 2021

Ethical reports plunge in 2021

Due to the effects of the global pandemic, organisational ethical reports have plunged – especially in Asia/Pacific.

That’s according to a report from Navex which finds a global decline in ethical report numbers – the first decrease since reporting such data began 10+ years ago. 

Coinciding with the introduction of pandemic-driven regional lockdowns, Asia/Pacific organisations saw the sharpest reductions in ethical reports (57%). The UK had a similar – but less extreme – dip in report numbers (37.5%)

As we’ve talked about before, low numbers of ethical reports are not an indicator of organisational health. In fact, the opposite is usually the case. 

“APAC organisations witnessed a decrease in report volume median from 0.7 to 0.3 – effectively erasing the year-over-year gains the region had been making since tracking began in 2017.”

The impact of Covid-19 on ethical reporting

The report implicates remote working caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic for the change. It also notes that industries requiring in-person work during the pandemic had the highest median reporting rates.

“Europe and APAC…experienced reporting declines as early as February [and] were also the first regions to be impacted by the COVID-19 virus. Conversely, the reporting rebound witnessed in June is concurrent with the relaxing of stay-at-home orders following the ‘first wave’ of COVID-19 infections and deaths.” 

ethical reports

Ethical reports vs Retaliation

The number one reason employees are hesitant to make ethical reports? Fear of retaliation. 

It’s troubling then that reports of retaliation are in decline as well. A reduction in reports does not mean a reduction in risk, only that organisation members are more hesitant to report the issues they do encounter. 

Organisations in the Asia Pacific region also have the highest rate of harassment claims, says the report. 

“While harassment reporting rates vary considerably across regions, APAC organisations have the highest rates of harassment claims, with nearly one out of every five reports being an allegation of workplace harassment.”

No news isn’t good news

Again, this doesn’t necessarily indicate a higher incidence of harassment in the APAC region, only an increased likelihood of a report being made. 

“This high reporting rate is actually an encouraging sign, as it can serve as an indication of how positively the reporting of these concerns is viewed in this region,” says the report.

By way of comparison, North American organisations have a harassment reporting rate of only 4%. 

“This region’s comparatively low harassment reporting rate is likely less a reflection of actual declines in misbehaviour and more likely a result of unemployment fears and the chilling effect they have historically had on this type of reporting.” 

Changing channels

The channels people use to make reports are changing too. Remote working, especially in Europe and APAC, has seen an increased move to non-face-to-face methods of report-making.  

“Significant year-over-year changes seen in 2020 are the rise in web reporting and the corresponding decline in reporting from all non-web and non-telephony sources. While occurring across all regions, this flip is most pronounced for APAC and European organisations, where employees have moved to using on-line channels more effectively than elsewhere.”

Ethical choices

To increase the likelihood of a report being made, give employees a range of different ethical reporting options – think web-based, phone-based as well as in-person conversations.

As ethical reporting rates drop it’s vital that organisations work to keep lines of communication open. Additional resources may be required, but equally important is the promotion of whistleblower channels, and assurances – especially for remote employees – that they will be supported if they report wrongdoing in the workplace.

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