Honesty Without Fear? Whistleblower Anti-Retaliation Protections in Corporate Codes of Conduct

Melbourne University Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 168-206, 2016

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 17/15

42 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2017 Last revised: 6 Nov 2018

See all articles by Olivia Dixon

Olivia Dixon

The University of Sydney, Faculty of Law

Date Written: February 21, 2017

Abstract

Whistleblowing is considered to be an integral component of corporate governance through exposing and remedying corruption, fraud and other types of wrongdoing in both the public and private sector. While whistleblowers face a very real threat of retaliation, the current regime which purports to prohibit retaliation against private-sector whistleblowers is fragmented, complex and suffers from significant gaps. This article argues that in the absence of progress towards comprehensive private-sector whistleblower protection, private commitments contained in corporate codes of conduct may provide an interim regulatory solution by setting a ‘best practices’ benchmark and diffusing norms that influence organisational behaviour and culture. By examining the whistleblower policies of Australia’s 200 largest listed companies, this article further argues that private commitments potentially provide broader protection for whistleblowers than currently available under statute, and, in their strongest form, may provide an alternative route for enforcement, through contract.

Keywords: Whistleblower, whistle blower, code of conduct, code of ethics, anti-retaliation, protected disclosure, corporate governance, Australia

JEL Classification: K22, K31, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Dixon, Olivia, Honesty Without Fear? Whistleblower Anti-Retaliation Protections in Corporate Codes of Conduct (February 21, 2017). Melbourne University Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp. 168-206, 2016, Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 17/15, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2921688

Olivia Dixon (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney, Faculty of Law ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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