Whistleblowing refers to the act of a member/members of a company, present and former, unveiling concerns of unlawful and fraudulent practices. It is fundamental for an organization to sustain noteworthy backing and enhancement toward whistleblowing in a bid to make supportive endeavors toward the eradication of organizational misdemeanors. Gradually, whistleblowing will be considered a normal workplace task. Organizational leaders are becoming conscious that devotion to social responsibility and interests of the consumers, present distinct benefits with respect to drawing and ensuring the loyalty of customers, improving client affiliations, and generating high proceeds for stakeholders. Effective internal systems have the benefit of managing and correcting misconducts prior to becoming public, averting loss of profit and reputation, advancing the assurance that the views of employees are valuable, and promoting a situation of accessibility and trust.
Whistleblowing in Ethics
Whistleblowing denotes the action of the members of an organization, both present and former, unveiling details of illegitimate and corrupt practices to others within or outside the organization (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). It is turning out to be greatly common as more workers speak up regarding their ethical issues. It is evident that whistleblowing poses a variety of problems for both the organization and the whistleblower (Near & Miceli, 2016). Nonetheless, it may be affirmed that whistleblowing is a significant and compelling technique of seeking to control probable unethical conduct by organizations, in addition to assisting in the establishment of an extent of social accountability. In this regard, it is vital for the community to sustain significant backing and boost toward whistleblowing in an effort of making helpful endeavors toward the eradication of organizational misconducts.
Workers who find out about evident misconduct in an organization experience numerous dilemmas, every one of which has both constructive and unconstructive characteristics. For example, a whistleblower (an employee) might hesitate to report misconduct attributable to the dread of losing a job, suffering transfer to an adverse location, enduring subjection to harassment and oppression, turning out to be the center of public attention, or having his lifestyle, proficiency, or mental wellbeing called into question. In addition, such an employee might contend with a sentiment of perfidy, where he inadvertently feels as though he is disloyal to his colleagues or the organization by reporting wrongdoing. Rice (2015) asserts that a loyal worker will discover that an unethical conduct is in no way in the best interest of the organization and that overlooking it or keeping silent is certainly disloyal. On the contrary, another dilemma that whistleblowers may experience concerns personal commitment to their principles. However, responsibilities of privacy and loyalty should preferably not take priority over the essential responsibility of acting in a way that hinders avoidable trauma to others (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015).
It is essential for any whistleblower to focus on the constructive facets of reporting a wrongdoing (Rice, 2015). With time, whistleblowing will progressively be deemed normal workplace accountability. The moment whistleblowers unveil misconducts within an organization, they not only act morally and responsibly, but such actions go a long way in promoting positive attributes in the society (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). Other evident advantages emanating from whistleblowing encompass eliminating misconducts and their harmful impacts, ensuring fairness to everyone and the organization at large, preventing harm to health and wellbeing, and generating the chance to execute enhanced internal progressions with the purpose of avoiding future misconduct.
All possible whistleblowers have to understand that an excellently executed action is practical and necessary (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). After confirming that a given action necessitates whistleblowing, whistleblowers ought to assess cautiously the reasons behind their reporting to make sure that they are genuine and are seeking the good of others or the organization. Moreover, they should establish the best person to report the misconduct to and the most suitable approach (whether external or internal). The assertions should be articulated in an apparent, brief, and objective way (Near & Miceli, 2016). For a high-profile case, consulting a professional lawyer to assist in the determination of the most suitable practice and seeking of the available protection is recommended. Whistleblowers should comprehend that they might be unjustly reviled in the course of their action (Cassematis & Wortley, 2013).
Cases of whistleblowing prevent extensive damage to the society. A good example is the case of Jerome LiCari, who operated as a research expert for Beech-Nut Nutrition Company. Attributable to the poor prices of the apple product, he suspected of an illegal inclusion of a chemical compound. In this regard, he decided to visit the supplier’s establishment where he established that the product was certainly false. Even after reporting the matter to the Chief Executive Officer nothing was done, regardless of assurances that investigation into the issue would be carried out. It is apparent that the company’s desire to maintain the cost of production low amidst the tough competition overshadowed the obligation it owed its customers. When no action was undertaken for a whole year since his reporting, Jerome decided to quit the job and report the matter externally to the United States Food and Drug Administration, who quickly launched an investigation and took strict measures against the company. Selling a chemical compound in disguise of an apple product was not only unethical but illegitimate and harmful to the users. This is an instance where whistleblowing benefits the society through exposing the risk that a company can pose to the public, in addition to supporting justice through reporting (Cassematis & Wortley, 2013).
Ethical values differ considerably amidst people, organizations, and backgrounds. Business ethics are anchored in personal and shared ethical judgment at any level in an organization. With the concept of whistleblowing progressively increasing, organizations are finding it vital to incorporate social responsibility into their endeavors (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). On this note, workers are no longer overlooking unethical conducts at the place of work. Moreover, organizational executives are becoming aware that dedication to social responsibility and welfare of the consumers offers distinct benefits in terms of drawing and ensuring the loyalty of consumers, boosting customer affiliations, and making high profits for stakeholders. Safeguarding whistleblowers was realized through the enactment of the Public Interest Disclosure Act in the United Kingdom, which guarantees their protection in public, nonpublic, and non-profit-making organizations over and above supporting whistleblowing with convincing reasons (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). Additionally, the United States passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which affirms that organizational leaders who hit back against whistleblowers might be sentenced to even ten years’ imprisonment and the US Department of Labor has the authority to reinstate workers devoid of a trial.
Workers who engage in whistleblowing externally are usually compelled to do so when their concerns fail to receive justice internally (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). Nonetheless, the failure to report the misconduct or if such actions go unnoticed might result in worse effects to the success of the organization. The people who are willing and courageous enough to report unethical conducts ought to be protected and encouraged. Organizations ought to develop effective internal systems for addressing the arising concerns to prevent the necessity of employees seeking external means. Furthermore, whistleblowing strategies in a company ought to be executed, since they have the capacity of facilitating continued success and benefiting the entire society. Effective internal mechanisms have the advantage of managing and rectifying misconducts before they become public, preventing loss of profit and reputation, boosting the confidence that views and concerns of employees are germane, and promoting a setting of receptivity and trust. In this manner, an organization boosts positive ethical aspect and is perceived by the workers and the community as socially responsible (Near & Miceli, 2016).
Whistleblowers are usually torn between loyalties to their bosses or colleagues (the subject of the disclosure) and ethical dedication to the society and existing regulations (Hoffman & Schwartz, 2015). Initially, most of them have a feeling that they might end up on the losing end. Through the promotion of whistleblowing, companies send an evident affirmation to the workers that ethics, integrity, and social responsibility are vital to lasting success, and that any unethical conduct is intolerable. It is vital for the organization to demonstrate powerful dedication toward ethical principles by adhering to every stipulation (Near & Miceli, 2016).
It is apparent that whistleblowing poses an assortment of difficulties for both the organization and the whistleblower. Nevertheless, it may be asserted that whistleblowing is a major and compelling practice of seeking to manage disreputable conduct by organizations, in addition to aiding in the establishment of a suitable degree of social accountability. It is crucial for any whistleblower to concentrate on the constructive facets of reporting an unlawful activity. The instant whistleblowers disclose misconducts in an organization, they not only act ethically and sensibly, but such practices play a key role in promoting positive aspects in the society. With the idea of whistleblowing becoming increasingly popular, organizations are finding it imperative to slot in social responsibility into their undertakings. The people who are ready and brave enough to report unscrupulous conducts ought to be safeguarded and encouraged. Organizations ought to build successful internal systems for dealing with the arising concerns to avoid the necessity of employees seeking external approaches.
Cassematis, P. G., & Wortley, R. (2013). Prediction of whistleblowing or non-reporting observation: The role of personal and situational factors. Journal of Business Ethics, 117(3), 615-634.
Hoffman, W. M., & Schwartz, M. S. (2015). The morality of whistleblowing: A commentary on Richard T. De George. Journal of Business Ethics, 127(4), 771.
Near, J. P., & Miceli, M. P. (2016). After the wrongdoing: What managers should know about whistleblowing. Business Horizons, 59(1), 105-114.
Rice, A. J. (2015). Using scholarship on whistleblowing to inform peer ethics reporting. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 46(4), 298.