Conducted by ORC International in November, the survey questioned about 1,000 Americans on their knowledge of wrongdoing and their willingness to report it. Among its key findings, the survey concluded that 34 percent of the respondents have witnessed or had firsthand knowledge of wrongdoing in the workplace. Seventy-eight percent of those surveyed also said they would report misconduct, but only if the reporting could be done anonymously, without retaliation and result in a monetary reward.
These conditions are covered by the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Whistleblower Program enacted under the Dodd-Frank Act, but according to the survey, 68 percent of respondents were unaware of the program.
“It is disheartening to see that wrongdoing in the workplace continues to be so widespread,” said Jordan Thomas, partner and head of the whistleblower representation practice at Labaton Sucharow. “However, the findings affirm the need for, and value of, the SEC’s Whistleblower Program.”
The program, which provides strong anti-retaliation protections and financial awards, has led to the record enforcement results the SEC announced in November. With the increase in whistleblower reports, the survey says the number of submissions will likely exceed the number of cases the Enforcement Division of the SEC can actively investigate at one time.
Thomas, a former assistant director in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement who helped craft the program, said private individuals will have to take more responsibility in policing the marketplace as the program strengthens.
“Accordingly, now, more corporations will establish a culture of integrity in their organizations and individuals will courageously report wrongdoing wherever they find it,” he said.