What is the ethical issue?

It is now generally accepted by many businesses that employees (and other stakeholders) need a means by which they can raise their concerns about practices they believe may be unethical, unsafe or unlawful. Malpractice can severely damage a company's reputation if it is not dealt with at an early stage, and may go undetected unless arrangements are in place for concerns to be reported.

The failure to have an adequate Speak Up programme can have many ramifications within an organisation. Not only does it not allow employees to feel confident to report wrongdoing, but it can also facilitate wrongdoing within the organisation. Offences such as, but not limited to, a failure to comply with company policy, miscarriages of justice and dangers to health and safety can all be more likely to occur with the absence of an effective Speak Up programme.


IBE Guidance

A summary of good practice
  • Employees need to know how and where to obtain guidance on what is expected of them and the organisation they work for. Effective Speak Up arrangements facilitate the creation of an open and transparent culture, where employees have the confidence to speak out about issues that concern them. Through early detection and prevention of misconduct, organisations are more likely to avoid ethical risk.
  • Methods of establishing an effective Speak Up programme include introducing a code of practice for speaking up, adopting a clear procedure for dealing with reporters which includes thorough feedback and monitoring, improving the reporting/publishing of Speak Up data and allowing third parties to use the organisation's Speak Up line to raise concerns.
  • Speak Up programmes need to be implemented in a way that facilitates an open and transparent environment. Creating such programmes can lead to positivie outcomes such as better risk management, the protection of stakeholders, improvement of staff morale and a reduction in staff turnover.


Essential resources


Further resources


#SummerofSpeakUp webinar series: After I have spoken up

30 July 2019


Speaking Up is the ultimate act of loyalty

On Whistleblower Appreciation Day, there may be a focus on the big news stories, as we are grateful to those who have brought to the public attention issues of public safety, political corruption and corporate malfeasance, in the private, public and third sector.

29 July 2019


#SummerofSpeakUp webinar series: An investigation is under way

26 July 2019


An interview with investigators

Katherine Bradshaw asks Peter Melling, Head of Litigation & Investigations and Andy Noble, Head of Whistleblowing & Speak Up at RBS  some common questions about the investigation process in this #SummerOfSpeakUp blog.

22 July 2019


#SummerofSpeakUp webinar series: Making a report

19 July 2019


Making a report - best practice for organisations

In previous weeks, various authors have explored what sorts of wrongdoing employees observe, and how managers can encourage a culture where employees feel safe to report. In this blog, I draw on academic research into effective speak up arrangements to highlight what organisations can do to make sure they have a process in place that is suitable for handling various types of concerns, and a process that employees can trust. 

18 July 2019


I am not a whistleblower

I have spoken up at work, but I am not a whistleblower. I’m just someone who couldn’t stand by without doing something. 

15 July 2019


#SummerofSpeakUp webinar series: Speaking to someone

12 July 2019


Why having a supportive ethical culture matters to employee wellbeing

We’ve just celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week and with estimates suggesting that nearly 13% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health issues, more organisations are becoming aware of the need to support psychological as well as physical safety.

08 July 2019


#SummerofSpeakUp webinar series: I have a concern

04 July 2019

IBE news

Institute of Business Ethics launches innovative app to support employees who speak up in the workplace

The IBE has developed the IBE Speak Up Toolkit, to empower employees by demystifying the process and managing expectations.

01 July 2019


What do employees want to speak up about?

"If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear,” wrote George Orwell in the original preface to Animal Farm. This is, in essence, what speaking up about ethical misconduct in the workplace is also about. 

01 July 2019


Speak Up Toolkit Customisation

Are you interested in customising the IBE Speak Up Toolkit to tailor the guidance for your organisation? Complete this form and one of our team will get back to you.

01 July 2019


IBE Speak Up Toolkit

The IBE Speak Up Toolkit helps employees prepare for raising a concern at work. It answers questions about the entire process – from noticing a problem and having a conversation through to what to expect if you call a Speak Up helpline or if your concern is investigated. Use the toolkit for free, or find out about bespoke customisation for your organisation

01 July 2019

Publication type: Survey

Ethics at Work 2018: Canada

This survey report describes the Canadian findings of our 2018 Ethics at Work research and provides comparison with Switzerland and the UK.

26 June 2019

Publication type: Survey

Ethics at Work 2018: Switzerland

This survey report describes the Swiss findings of our 2018 Ethics at Work research and provides comparison with the European average.

23 May 2019

Publication type: Other

A Year In Review: Ethical Concerns and Lapses 2018

Read the IBE's annual analysis of business ethics news stories from the last year - which were the sectors and issues most in the news in 2018?

30 January 2019

Publication type: Survey

Ethics at Work 2018: France

This survey report describes the French findings of our 2018 Ethics at Work research and provides comparison with the European average from the eight countries surveyed.

04 December 2018

Publication type: Survey

Ethics at Work 2018: New Zealand

This survey report describes the New Zealand findings of our 2018 Ethics at Work research

28 November 2018

Publication type: Survey

Ethics at Work 2018: Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom

This survey report describes the Australia and New Zealand findings of our 2018 Ethics at Work research and compares them with the findings from the UK

27 November 2018

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