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APR 13, 2016 | UNITED KINGDOM

Over four-fifths of small business workers prepared to shop their boss for illegal or unethical practices

BSA | The Software Alliance launches campaign urging SMEs to stamp out illegal practices, as it sees 58% rise in whistleblower reports in a year

London, UK – 13th April 2016: More than four-fifths (82%) of UK SME workers say they would shop their boss for illegal or unethical practices in the workplace, according to new research from BSA | The Software Alliance, the leading voice of the software industry. Furthermore, one in ten are aware of illegal or unethical practices happening in the organisations they work for right now.

The research reveals that workers are most likely to blow the whistle on bullying (73%), fraud (70%), theft of company property (61%), embezzlement (58%), tax evasion (45%) and failure to meet industry standards (44%).

In addition, over a third of workers (38%) state that they would report illegal or unethical IT practices, such as using or downloading unlicensed or counterfeit software. BSA, which encourages people to blow the whistle on unlicensed software use in the workplace offers rewards which results in a legal settlement. Last year it saw a 58% increase in whistleblower reports from disgruntled employees in the UK, which led to cost UK companies, on average £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% openly say for a financial reward.

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 behavior. But despite the growing publicity, over half of respondents (55%) didn’t think their business was more concerned about good business practice, even though the consequences of whistleblowing 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 too, in areas such as 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.

“With more than four-fifths of workers willing to blow the whistle, SMEs need to review all of their business practices 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 break laws or put their ethics into question. Whether it’s company fraud or basic operational issues, such as using software that isn’t properly licensed, it’s clear that businesses are flouting the rules and one-in-ten UK SME employees admit to knowing that bad practices are going on in their organisations.

Sarah Coombes continues: “Regardless of whether you’re a small or large business, it’s critical to ensure you are operating in a legal and ethical way day in, day out.”  

As more workers admit they are prepared to hold their bosses to account, BSA is launching its 2016 Fact or Fiction campaign, which warns UK SMEs 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. 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 software asset management 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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