The companies surveyed offer their employees and stakeholders various options to get in touch with the relevant authority. A distinction can be made between general and specialised reporting channels. The general reporting channels include personal visits to the relevant authority, letters, faxes and e-mails, as well as telephone contact. A specialised reporting channel is the hotline/call centre, which in contrast to the 'telephone' reporting channel can be reached around the clock and is supported by trained personnel. The specialized channels also include mobile apps and social media channels set up specifically for reporting misconduct, as well as web-based whistleblowing systems.
Overall, the most widespread general reporting channels are usually the less expensive ones. There are striking differences between the countries in this regard. More than 70 per cent of German, British and Swiss companies offer an e-mail address specifically set up for this purpose, while this is only the case for half of French companies. It is also striking that German companies give their whistleblowers the opportunity to visit the person in charge of the whistleblowing system in person much more frequently. It is also interesting to note that British companies have set up more frequently a hotline (45%) and a web-based reporting channel (39%) than companies in the other three countries. The web-based reporting channel is still the least widespread in Germany at 24% of those companies surveyed.
Across all countries, 30 per cent of companies have implemented a web-based reporting channel. The figure is 33 per cent for large companies and 21 per cent for SMEs.
Not surprisingly, in all four countries large companies have established more specialised reporting channels (see country charts). SMEs prefer general reporting channels; in particular, personal visits to those responsible for the whistleblowing system and telephone contact are much more common here than in large companies.
The survey showed that companies across all four countries and company sizes offer three reporting channels on average . Germany is the leader in this respect: 72 per cent of companies offer their whistleblowers at least three reporting channels to report concrete or suspected misconduct. In Switzerland and Great Britain, this is the case for just over half of the companies, while in France only 37 per cent have at least three reporting channels.