SILENCE IN THE CITY 2
About the report
Is it now easier to be a whistleblower in the City? Are financial service workers now better treated following the introduction of Whistleblowing Rules?
In 2012 we conducted research – Silence in The City – into the experience of whistleblowing in the financial services sector. At that time the financial crash and Libor scandal raised the question – why hadn’t whistleblowers come forward with concerns? We wanted to explore the reasons behind this. Our research back then found a lack of trust and transparency. We decided it was time to revisit the sector and once again scrutinise data to see what difference Whistleblowing Rules implemented in 2016 by the financial regulators have made. Have the rule on employers made a difference to workplace culture in the City?
The rules require firms to have the following in place:
- Senior Manager appointed as their whistleblowers’ champion
- internal whistleblowing arrangements to handle all types of disclosures
- text in settlement agreements explaining workers have a legal right to blow the whistle
- tell UK-based employees about the FCA and PRA whistleblowing services
- present a report on whistleblowing to the board, at least annually
- inform the FCA if it loses an employment tribunal with a whistleblower
This research – Silence in The City 2 – examines the lived experience of 352 finance sector whistleblowers who contacted the Protect Advice Line between January 2017 – December 2019.
Our analysis reveals both positive and negative changes in the City since our 2012 report, Silence in the City.
We would like to thank Slater & Gordon Lawyers for their support in publishing this research as well as the whistleblowers who assisted us with the research.
For more than 25 years, we have run a confidential Advice Line for whistleblowers, and to date have supported more than 40,000 whistleblowers across all sectors.
More trust in internal whistleblowing arrangements
Silence in The City 2 (SITC2) has found a 15% increase in the number of whistleblowers raising their concerns about wrongdoing or malpractice with their employer, compared with our 2012 report findings. SITC2 found 93% of whistleblowing concerns were raised internally compared to 78% in 2012.
The majority of financial service whistleblowers experience victimisation
Almost two thirds of whistleblowers calling Protect for advice experience either victimisation which can include retaliation from managers or co-workers, dismissal or resignation.
Whistleblowers are ignored
Whistleblowers are ignored – whether that’s when they come forward and raise the wrongdoing they’ve witnessed (33%).
And ignored when whistleblowers report to their employer that they have been victimised (58%).
Recommendations for employers
1. Our research shows that being compliant with the Whistleblowing Rules is not enough organisation in the sector need to ensure they review all aspects of their arrangements to enusre they work well in practice.
2. Whistleblowers feel ignored, communicate and seek feedback from whistleblowers telling them what action has been taken on the concerns and asking they feel victimised for raising the concerns. Being proactive in communicating with whistleblowers is key.
3. Train all directors, managers and HR officers on identifying whistleblowing, acting on the concern raised and on responding to reports of victimisation.
Recommendations for Regulators and Government
- The Government need to bring in a positive duty on employers to prevent victimsation of whistleblowers. This would mean that employers will have to assess and minimise the risks of harm coming to whistleblowers, before victimisation occurs.
- The FCA and PRA need to react to the tick-box nature many financial services firms seem to have implemented regarding the Whistleblowing Rules and hold firms and senior managers to account where there is a credible case that whistleblowers have been victimised.
- In 2018 the FCA’s review of whistleblowing arrangements in retail and wholesale banking found “A number of firms needed to develop or enhance their arrangements to demonstrate how whistleblowers would be protected against victimisation”. In light of our research, this needs further follow up.