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APR 13, 2016 | UNITED KINGDOM

Over a third of UK workers are prepared to shop their boss for illegal or unethical IT practices

BSA | The Software Alliance research finds that workers in the IT and Telecoms industry are more aware of illegal or unethical workplace behaviour in their business than any other industry

London, UK – 13th April 2016: More than a third (38%) of UK workers are prepared to shop their boss for illegal or unethical IT practices in the workplace, according to new research from BSA | The Software Alliance, the leading voice of the software industry. Furthermore, over one-in-ten respondents admitted illegal or unethical business practices are happening at their current workplace, over a fifth of whom worked in IT and Telecoms; accounting for more than any other industry.

The research, carried out by Opinium and including over 2,000 UK workers, also reveals that one in ten employees suspect that their business is guilty of using illegal or unlicensed software. Again, this figure doubles to a staggering one in five (23%) with workers in the IT & Telecoms industry. Furthermore, workers in the IT & Telecoms are more likely to report on illegal or unethical IT practices in the workplace than any other industry, with half of respondents (50%) admitting they would be prepared to report their employer.

BSA, which encourages people to blow the whistle on unlicensed software use in the workplace, offers rewards for information which results in a legal settlement. Last year it saw a 58% increase in whistleblower reports from disgruntled employees in the UK, which cost UK companies an average of £42,000. When asked what would prompt them to blow the whistle on their employers, 42% of survey respondents claim they would do it due to moral obligations, while only 7% say for a financial reward.

In addition, 81% of respondents believe that businesses should face consequences for harbouring unlicensed software, including 45% who think there should be a financial penalty.

Business apathy towards whistleblowers

Whistleblowing has grabbed headlines internationally over the last few years. Whether in politics, government organisations or the free economy: more and more people are prepared to blow the whistle on illegal and unethical behaviour. But despite the growing publicity, over half of respondents (55%) didn’t think their business was more concerned about good practice, even though the consequences of having the whistle blown on them can be severe.

Last year, one UK SME paid £200,000 in damages for using copies of unlicensed software. Unplanned costs of this size can be damaging to the financial health of a small business, so it’s important they do everything they can to ensure their organisation isn’t at risk.

Illegal or unethical behaviour in the workplace can have a wider impact on other areas of the business too, including recruitment. Fifty-six percent of respondents say they would be less willing to apply for a job somewhere if the business had been accused or found guilty of illegal or unethical behaviour.

As more workers admit they are prepared to hold their bosses to account, BSA is launching its 2016 Fact or Fiction campaign, that will warn UK businesses about the dangers of using unlicensed software and outlines the benefits of keeping their software licensing in check, as nearly one-in-four pieces of software in the UK is unlicensed.

“With a third of workers willing to blow the whistle on illegal or unethical IT practices, businesses need to make sure their house is in order before it’s too late,” says Sarah Coombes, Managing Director at BSA EMEA. “Our research shows that employees aren’t willing to put up with any practices that breaks laws or put their ethics into question. As a result we’ve seen a dramatic increase in whistleblower reports we’ve received in the last year.”  

Sarah Coombes continues: “Given that 1 in 4 pieces of software is unlicensed, it’s a business’ responsibility to make sure they have the correct procedures and software asset management (SAM) practices in place to stay fully compliant.” BSA offers rewards of up to £10,000 for whistleblower reports which end in a legal settlement.

As part of the campaign, BSA is contacting companies in London’s financial, professional service and creative industries and encouraging them to visit the BSA Company Index portal, which offers free tools and advice on SAM and how to avoid being caught out with unlicensed or illegal software.

ENDS 

Notes to editors

This research was carried out by Opinium in February 2016. The research questioned 2,018 UK office workers from small businesses (between 1-249 employees)

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