According to a new university of Greenwich survey, most would report wrong-doing in their organisation, but fewer think that society finds whistleblowing acceptable.

The findings show that four out of five British workers believe that people should be supported for revealing serious wrongdoing, even if it means revealing inside information.

Despite this however, the online survey of 2,000 British employees discovered that under half (47%) of respondents consider whistleblowing to be an acceptable thing to do in society.

It also found that nine out of ten people surveyed feel that whistleblowers should be able to use the media to draw attention to wrongdoing, while three-quarters of respondents also said that they would feel obliged to report any wrongdoing that they witnessed to someone in their organisation.

Managing Director at risk management firm Kroll, Benedict Hamilton, said:

“It is crucial that companies respond very quickly and in an appropriate manner to a whistleblowing allegation to understand the facts behind it and ensure the best outcomes are achieved.

“Many companies find that using a third party investigator provides them with a level of reassurance that the right decisions have been made. This can help to limit financial and reputational damage, and where appropriate, recover or avoid losses.”

Dr Wim Vandekerckhove from the Work and Employment Relations Unit (WERU) at the University of Greenwich, who led the research, believes that at a time where a change in the UK legislation on whistleblower protection is being demanded, it is important to note how citizens feel about whistleblowing. He suggested that any changes to the legislation should be in line with attempts to close the gaps identified by this research.

Dr Vandekerckhove concludes that this research shows people will raise concern inside their organisation, but added:

“If we don’t make it safer for employees to speak up inside their organisations, people will support those who blow the whistle to the media.”

It was also suggested that political, business and community leaders must accept this new reality, and develop and implement legislation and policies that make it safe and effective to speak up about wrongdoing inside the organisation.