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Whistleblowing – a litmus test of a firm’s culture

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Dewar Sally
Sally Dewar

CEO, A&O Consulting

London

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Catherine Gibaud

Senior Advisor, A&O Consulting

London

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03 December 2019

Having a culture which encourages employees to speak up in a safe environment is a stated aim of most organisations, globally. How a firm deals with whistleblowing is therefore a litmus test of the health of its culture.
Allen Overy consulting

Most people agree, in theory, that those who speak out in good faith against misconduct or malpractice in an organisation play a key role in promoting transparency and highlighting misconduct. However, in practice, employees hesitate to speak up for three main reasons: Lethargy (“nothing will change”); Apathy (“everyone knows it’s happening – so why should I be the one to call it out”) and Fear (“I can’t afford to lose my job; I don’t want to be shunned”). This article analyses these three reasons through the lens of a firm’s culture – with the aim of gaining a better understanding of the concerns on both sides, firm and whistleblower. We conclude that the way in which a firm deals with whistleblowing is a litmus test of the health of the firm’s culture more generally.

Sally Dewar, CEO of A&O Consulting

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