The importance of whistle-blowers in corporate organization today

By Miriatu

            Systems that regulate the balance between employers and employees role in corporate organizations as stated in signed social contract or agreement among them are changing tremendously. We have moved from labor based approach, competence based approach and of recent the Bretton wood institutions; that is the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have introduced the Performance Based Evaluation Approach. It should be emphasized abundantly here that these consistent changes are linked to the speed with which the world around us is evolving technologically. The above mentioned approaches are there to ensure that employers recruit the right individuals at the right positions based on their competence and training. Therefore, a happy employee is someone who does not feel exploited and likewise a happy employer. This is most essential especially in private sector jobs where the corporate body is owned and run at times by an individual or a group of few individuals who have put shares together. For this ultimate reason therefore, employers are very critical over who they employ and how serious they should take their job as their inputs are unavoidable determinant for the growth and progress of the corporation. Workers can attempt laxity with a public sector job although not something good and more often they escape without impunity especially in the developing countries. On the contrary, laxity or being fool around is not tolerated in private sector jobs. There are many mega sophisticated privately owned corporate organizations across the globe especially in big industrialized economies. An employee could fulfill the competence based approach criteria but when giving the job, he/she will be unable to deliver as expected to by the employer and this is very disturbing especially if the post held is a prestigious one to the corporation. The difficult part of it is that employers sometimes find it very difficult to detect this inefficiency on the part of their personnel.

            However, with the breakthroughs brought about by technology, employers have been able to take a few measures to get rid of this ill. For example, automatic systems have been built in modern work places that register the exact entry time of employees as well as satellite network installed in offices to record every activity carry out by employees. Despite all of these landmark measures taken by numerous corporate organizations, they have not been able to fully eradicate this phenomenon. Some employees go to work and forgetting that working hour is working hour, they use the company’s resources for their personal gratifications instead for they work they have been recruited for. Nevertheless, employees are not the only one to be blamed here but likewise the employers as well. It is as a result of all of these controversies among employers and employees that the concept of whistle blowing saw the light of day.

            This article is therefore focused on the importance of whistle blowers in corporate organizations today. And on this, we will be examining the following; whistle blowers policy, whistle blowers protection act, what’s a whistle blower, whistle blowing policy, whistle blowing protection, whistle blower act, whistle blower law, whistle blower cases.


A). What do we mean by whistle blowing or better still who is a whistle blower?

Johnson (2003, P.3) describes whistleblowing as a form of dissent that entails four features. Firstly, it is an individual decision to deliver information publicly. Secondly, the information is divulged to some outside of an organization party who makes it public and part of public information. Third, the information disclosed has to do with some non-trivial wrongdoing within that corporate body. At the end, the person involved in the release is a member of that organization and not a journalist or general member of the public. In short, a whistle-blower is a person who exposes wrongdoing within a corporate body. Even though this Johnson׳s definition shows depth, it is unable to zoom into every detail element and  aspect of what whistleblowing is in that it neglects the aspect of the practice related to reporting and expunging every of malpractice. This is the meaning of whistleblowing crafted in this article: An act of an individual within an organization who discloses information in order to report and correct corruption. In addition to the four characteristics that Johnson exhibits, there are equally two other possible elements concerning the whistle blower. Firstly, that individual is basically inspired by the desire to put a stop to all forms of  wrong doings. The reiteration on the basic reason is worthwhile for two main points.

Firstly, it excludes whistleblowing as primarily a vengeful act or done simply for harassing someone else. Secondly, it put off persons who truly blow the whistle simply or solely for economic profits. By and large, to put off all financial motivation away from whistleblowing is not possible. First this is because some persons do sound the whistle and expose wrongdoing in part because they will receive some compensation or reward for doing so ensuring that it is done within the ambit whistle blower act as well as whistle blower law. Such rewards either compensate for the ostracization and loss of job opportunities many whistleblowers confront after advancing publicly, and because such means, as are burgeoning being offered in laws in countries such as the American, rich folks to look out for illegal or unethical behavior or otherwise create the conditions under which whistleblowing becomes possible. Whistle blowing protection is very necessary because the risk involved.

Two, the individual blowing the whistle does so as a definite act. The objective or expectation is that corporations can discipline themselves. Through this, under normal circumstances corporations have internal checks to detect and correct illegal and inappropriate behavior and that there are mechanisms for individuals within organizations to iron out wrongdoings. Whistleblowing is seen as a substitute or rather it is another channel to use to report wrongdoings when internal chains of command or structures preclude or make difficult the ability to otherwise report or correct inappropriate behavior. There are several arguments given to support the need for whistleblowing. Firstly, as raised previously, some corporate bodies simply may be unwilling, closed to but unable to tackle wrongdoing. Whether it is related to the fears of refusal to comply with the law, retaliation, and other reasons, whistleblowing could equally be the only workable mechanism to expose and correct wrongdoing.


B). Why are whistle blowers importance in corporate organizations today?

Having explained thoroughly above about who is whistle blower is as well as the act of whistle blowing wrongdoing of either an employer or employees, rationally and not irrationally respecting whistle blowers policy, whistle blower law, it is therefore expected of the whistle blowers to come up with well based and well founded whistle blower cases. The pursuance of this has tremendous importance of the phenomenon in corporate organizations today. The importance of whistle blowing is examined extensively in the subsequent points:

i). whistleblowing is a mechanism to correct or reform organizations

            As earlier pointed out in the introduction of this article, the phenomenon of whistle blowing is aimed at bringing to book employees as well as employers who are genuinely involved in wrongdoing. For instance an employee who goes to work and instead of delivery the task for which he/she was employed, that employee rather get involved in defiant behavior of chasing after subordinate workers of the same company as a boss during working hours. That is using the big comfortable office given to him by the company as a theatre for immorality instead for work. This is so rampant today in our society. If an employee acts this way that is derogatory to the employer who is focused on productivity as well as has to pay him every dime that he signs for in the social contract. This is very disturbing because it will play down on the company. On the contrary as well, there are many employers who fail to keep to the agreement sign with employees most especially in the area of wages and worse still in the area also of the working conditions. Therefore with all these lapses, it becomes importance for well trained and uninfluenced whistle blowers to correct or reform organizations. So asking of what’s a whistle blower, this is who a whistle blower is that is operating within the whistle blower act strictly within the framework of whistle blowing policy and whistle blower law respectively. Nonetheless whistle blowing protectionis very important to whistle blowers because those reported are likely going to plan something evil in return.

            Organizations, public, private or Non-Governmental Organizations can develop pathologies and do terrible stuffs. Whistleblowing unleashes unethical act with the goal that public exposure will compel change. Whether whistleblowing has prevailed in producing reforms is an issue of debatable trend. In a few incidences unique act may be dealt with through exposure but measuring whether overall whistleblowing really reforms organizations is difficult to ascertain.

ii). Whistleblowing, perhaps most significantly, seeks to disclose serious bad conduct

Whistleblowing, perhaps most essentially, seeks to divulge serious immoral issue that either the public needs to know about or which needs to be halted and amended. Disclosing bribery, illegal control, unaccountable use of organizational resources, and unjudicial arrangements are all issues that should be exposed and corrected. Bad behaviors of employees as well as the employers have far reaching consequences not on either party but the public as well. One of the things every one fears is to be exposed. Most politicians have been discredited and lose their office because they were exposed by whistle blowers. Shame is something very difficult to manage especially if it hit you from the public perspective. Former International Monetary Fund Chief Dominick Straus Khan lose his candidature as a presidential nominee following acts of sexual assault reported by whistle blowers and that weakened him and before he was declared disqualified, he fired himself in advance because of the shame. Therefore the work of whistle blowers are highly recommendable because when one, two or three persons are exposed of seriously bad behavior it will signal a strong message to those who are practicing the same serious bad behaviors but who have not yet been caught. So asking what’s a whistle blower, this is a whistle blower who operates within the whistle blowers protection act, whistle blowers policy, whistle blower act, whistle blower cases as well as making sure that they fall under the category of whistle blowing. However, whistle blowing protection should be thoroughly enforced.

iii). whistleblowing may be justified as a way of promoting justice

Whistleblowing may be justified as a way of promoting justice in that wrongdoers are held accountable for their actions. Even though the road to global justice appears to be a long one, we ought not to forget that the longest journeys begin with a step. Whistle blowing is that step within the working sector to straighten the mess and confusion plaguing the sector. It will be complete malicious injustice if in an corporate organizations employees with unorthodox attitudes as well as employers are allowed to operate the way they like without being followed and brought to justice. We should not see the word justice as something that applied only in the legal department where every manner of terrible case is taken for litigation. If you are an employee who fails to keep to standard you are practicing injustice likewise an employer as well. For all of the above reasons, whistleblowing is increasingly seen less as an aberration or an evil and more as a necessary and critical component in policing unethical and illegal behavior. Due to the increasing recognition that whistleblowing is one part of an overall set of tools to divulge corruption practices, numerous international organizations and countries are adopting legislation that legalizes or encourages such deviant act. These laws obviously manifest many things. Firstly, they may develop mechanisms and or processes to enable whistleblowing, essentially in an unknown fashion, for instance via hotlines. Secondly, the laws might need corporate bodies to spearhead whistleblowing. Thirdly, the laws might set up financial wherewithal to spur whistleblowing. Fourthly, the laws might provide protector to keep whistleblowers from reprisals or retaliation. Generally speaking, the sufficient reason for whistleblowing is that it is one tool that can be used to expose and combat corruption.

Given the prevalence of corporate misconduct in the near occurrence years back, whistleblowing matters have taken on a tremendous rise. A 2002 Business Week article described 2002 the "Year of the Whistleblower" and opined Stephen Meagher, one time federal judge who happened to be a representative of whistleblowers, as prescribed that "the affairs of whistleblowing is growing." This growth is likely to be fostered by the provisions of the American S.O.A fully spelled as Sarbanes-Oxley Act that for the very first occasion, gives legal protections to whistleblowers in publicly traded enterprises. This implies enterprises will have to provide rigorous policies to allow employees to bring unethical and illegal practices to the fullest. Enterprises will need to build and empower managers and executives on how to pursue transparency, not the most possible likelihood of the immoral assaults and embarrassment some ten years ago. Developing processes in order will not instant, but it is however important seeing the increased public scrutiny of corporate behavior.


C). The benefits of whistleblowing

            Every organization desires honesty from and among its employees. The act of honesty allows for complete dedication to the organization’s mission and success. By encouraging a whistleblowing culture, the organization promotes transparent structure and effective, clear communication. More importantly, whistleblowing can protect the organization’s clients. But then whistle blowers protection act must be promulgated to back whistle blowers. For example, if a hospital employs a number of negligent personnel teams, other, more morally driven, employees would have to introduce such issues to the benevolent concern, keeping the organization from away from lawsuits or severe mishaps resulting in a patient’s demise. And most especially, this has to fall under logical whistle blower cases as well as upheld whistle blowers policy.


D).   The drawbacks of whistleblowing

            As with most matters, there are positives and negatives. Whistleblowing, too, has some criticized areas. For example, in a case in1972, an a member in the legal panel told a whistle-blowing employee that the worker should be very careful with whatever claims that he hold and yet expect to stay on the same corporate organization. If the corporation does not hold the same positive attitude in regards to whistleblowing, employees may fear speaking up. This explains why whistleblowers policy has to been acted before you ever intend to work as a whistleblower.

A second consideration includes employees taking advantage of whistleblowing. Forbes.com cites an example of Durand Douglad. Being the vice chairman of the sales at TAP medical Products, Durand detected the company was associating with medical practitioners in gross Medicare. Rather than searching for founded evidence and sounding the whistle, Durand expended seven months assembling data, resign, and afterward forward a law suit against TAP. Durand expended the next eight years in enterprise with the government in order to construct the case. Durand received $126 million in the case settlement. But another trouble surfaced after the settlement, as the prosecutors filed criminal fraud charges against TAP executives. Durand’s quenches apart as the defense procureur pokedholes in his claims. Durand’s example reviles the ugly side of whistleblowing as a result of greed. In this situation he did not act within the professionalism expected of whistleblowers which is contrary to whistle blowers protection act.

Although these two negative aspects of whistleblowing can be quiet unsettling, both can be curbed. By promoting a whistleblowing culture within the corporation, employees will become comfortable speaking freely when necessary. Here are some tips for promoting a whistleblowing culture:


E). Steps for creating a whistleblowing culture

            The very first step should be on the creation of a whistle blowing policy. When a whistle blower policy is crafted, then process of creating a whistle blowing culture can be pursued. Therefore asking what’s a whistle blower is based on how he/she observe the culture.

            A policy about reporting unjudicial or immoral behaviors should include the following;

i)                    Formal mechanisms for reporting circumventions, such as mailboxes and hotlines.

ii)                  Clear communications about the process of raising issues, such as a concise body of instruction, or better still the identification of a distinctive individual in the corporation, for instance human resources professional or expert.

iii)                Clear communications about bans on retaliation.

In addition, a clear connection should exist between an organization's code of ethics and performance measures. For instance, in the performance review system, employees can be considered responsible not only for meeting their goals and objectives but also for doing so in accordance with the stated values or business standards of the company. The following principles are much recommended in this regards;

i)                    Get endorsement from top management

Top management, beginning with the Chief Execution Office, should exhibit a strong commitment to spur whistleblowing. This message must be delivered by veteran managers at a complete level, who are taught consistently in erecting an open-door policy regarding employee complaints.

ii). Publicize the organization's commitment

To create a culture of openness and honesty, it is vital for employees to be inform about the policy consistently. High ranking management must put all efforts to talk about the commitment to ethical behavior in memos, speeches, and newsletters to company personnel. By publicly acknowledging and rewarding employees who pinpoint ethical issues is one way to send the message that management is serious about addressing issues before they become endemic.

iii). Investigate and follow up

Managers should be required to investigate all allegations promptly and extensively, and report the natty gritty as well as the outcomes of the investigation to a higher authority. For instance, at IBM, a long-standing open-door policy requires that any complaint received must be investigated within a certain length of hours. Being unable to act is the most suitable way to build cynicism about the seriousness of an organization's ethics policy.

iv). Assess the organization'sinternalwhistleblowing System

Find out employees' opinions about the organization's culture vis-à-vis its commitment to values mission statement. For instance, Sears carries a yearly employee survey pertaining to ethics. Some questions are: Do you believe unethical issues are allowed here? Are you trained and know how to report a moral matter? This is very vital because not all organizations have the same whistleblowing system. By this it means if you cherish working as a whistle blower in which ever corporate organization, take time to master its internal whistleblowing system because failing to that will land you into trouble. Therefore, whistle blowing policy is best engulfed in the internal structure of what that specific corporation corporate lays down.

To conclude on this article, it should be emphasised that whistle blowing even though excellent as showcased in this article, it should never incite you to nurse greedy desire of becoming a whistle blower for the purpose of manipulation and making money huge sums of money because attempting to do so could rather get you implicated and sued. On the contrary, it should be genuinely desired by people of integrity who do not like condoning with the wrongdoings perpetuated by some unscrupulous employers and employees but will want to do everything possible to have them nailed down through the presentation of genuinely researched facts and evidence.

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