A new age of accountability: global whistleblowing on the rise

February 23, 2021

A new eBook on the top 10 risk and compliance trends for 2021 predicts we are heading into a new age of accountability for global whistleblowing. The eBook, released by our parent company NAVEX Global, includes insights from WhistleB co-founder Karin Henriksson, who has contributed to the article on global whistleblowing.  

The article looks at trends in whistleblowing regulation across the world, and explores how certain themes – such as confidentiality – feature consistently and prominently. It also provides actions for organisations to take in stepping up their whistleblowing report management. Here are the headlines.

Europe is in the midst of a regulatory leap forward for whistleblower protection, as a new EU Directive is set to enter national law in EU member states by the end of 2021. 

“We expect three major shifts due to the new law. First it will elevate the status of whistleblowers. Second it will enhance the role organisations play in bringing unethical 

behaviour and criminal activities to light. And, as we are already seeing, it will drive professionalisation of whistleblowing systems and report management,” predicts Karin Henriksson.


Correction to the eBook: The EU-directive requires organizations with 50 or more employees to have a secure and confidential internal reporting channel. The threshold of turnover or assets of more than €10 million was eventually left out from the final text of the Directive. 

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published amendments to the rules governing its whistleblower programme in 2020. The SEC’s intention is to provide greater clarity and transparency in the award determination process, and the level of whistleblowing reporting is expected to go up.

The Asia-Pacific region is also witnessing a period of increasing whistleblowing protection regulation, with notable developments in Australia, New Zealand and Japan. Similar to the situation in Europe, a common feature of emerging legislation is to ensure organisations have reporting procedures in place and that whistleblowers are protected. 

The obligation to uphold the confidentiality of the whistleblower is becoming a hallmark of new laws all over the world. Failure to do so may incur financial, reputational and even criminal penalties in the years to come. Larger penalties and fines for organisations that fail to implement compliant whistleblowing systems or that retaliate against the whistleblower is also predicted.

Another global whistleblowing trend is a broadening in the definition of the whistleblower.  Once, it was only current employees who were typically perceived as whistleblowers; but the Directive in Europe, amendments to the whistleblower laws in Australia, and a new Japanese law all extend protections and reporting capacity to others, including former and retired employees and directors.

Want to find out more? Register for the 11th March webinar

You can also read the article on global whistleblowing in the free NAVEX Global eBook, Top 10 Risk and Compliance Trends for 2021.


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