ICAS: More support needed for whistleblowing

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) has published two new reports which reveal that more support is needed for whistleblowing amongst professional chartered accountants (CAs).

ICAS: More support needed for whistleblowing

Participants were asked whether they had encountered an ethical dilemma and two-thirds (67%) of those who responded said they had.

The research found that respondents had encountered a range of ethical dilemmas in organisations of all sizes and types.

Ethical dilemmas did not solely relate to accounting and tax matters but included issues such as fraud, theft, bribery, corruption, bullying, discrimination and harassment.

Although 67% of respondents had experienced an ethical dilemma, just under half of all respondents had reported a dilemma (314).

The research also found that one-third of respondents work in organisations that do not have ‘speak up’ policies. Of those who do work in organisations with such policies, there can be a lack of awareness and understanding of them.

When respondents were asked the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the statement “My organisation has a listening culture”, just over half felt that their organisation did so.

‘Listen up’ policies are at an earlier stage of development than speak up policies. While the report finds there is scope to improve policies in this area, it also stresses the importance of cultural change.

Bruce Cartwright CA, ICAS chief executive, said: “Our research highlights that there is still some way to go in the practice of speaking up, listening up, and whistleblowing in the accountancy profession. There continue to be negative connotations associated with these practices and we need to promote a stronger message that such behaviours are positive and valued. ICAS will be using the report recommendations to further its work in this area.”

The second report, Speak up? Listen up? Whistleblow?, provides insights into the ethical dilemmas of ICAS members, takes a more in-depth look at accountancy professionals’ ethical dilemma experiences.

This research involved 48 interviews, including 37 with ICAS members and 11 other interviewees who were approached in order to provide a more rounded understanding of the topic area.

The report states that all interviewees “were united in their belief that ICAS members were very likely to encounter ethical dilemmas throughout their careers”.

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