Whistleblowers are company employees who report inappropriate or unethical behavior they discover at work. Whistle-blowing covers many areas of business in every industry, including but not limited to internal discrimination, predatory sales practices and dangerous working conditions. Business owners can learn the ramifications of well-known whistleblower examples to avoid catastrophic legal and financial penalties.
Whistleblowers are protected from employer retaliation under the Whistleblower Protection Act. Employers must allow investigations to occur without taking action against the reporting party. Understand the laws to ensure you are not subject to whistle-blowing, and follow legal protocol should someone report the company for infractions.
Many examples exist of unethical corporate conduct toward employees or other workers in the supply chain. Many U.S. corporations used Third World sweatshops to produce their goods; some have even been found to use child labor. Every year, lawsuits are filed against employers who are accused of sexual harassment or discrimination against their employees. Some employers have been sued for threatening or firing whistle-blowers, or employees who point out illegal practices or
safety violations in the workplace. Some U.S. businesses use undocumented workers because they can pay them less than minimum wage.
Examples of financial misconduct include price-fixing, or an illegal agreement betweenindustry competitors to "fix" the price of a product at an artificially inflated level; physicians who refuse to treat non-insured patients, or perform unnecessary procedures to make more money; tax evasion; tax fraud; and "cooking the books" to make the company look more profitable than it is. Other possibilities include paying unjustifiable salaries and bonuses to top officials regardless of work performance – sometimes in spite of it – and chasing short-term profit by placing investor's money in questionable investments.
Corporate misrepresentation can take many forms. It can be as simple as a salesman who lies about his company's products, or it can be false or misleading advertising. Misrepresentation can involve a coverup of illegal workplace conditions or transactions; falsified data in a shareholder report; lying to a union about corporate profits; or hiding or denying safety problems with a product. Other examples include corporate board members with conflict of interests, doctors who push the most expensive drugs rather than the most effective ones, and brokers who recommend stocks that they own in an effort to drive up the price.
Whistleblowing is central to a company’s system of checks and balances. Whistleblowing shields companies from reputational and other risks. The ability to blow the whistle reflects shared responsibility and positive culture. An individual rarely takes the decision to blow the whistle lightly, and companies must apply the same degree of importance to this area because they have just as much to win or lose. By taking a positive approach companies can show respecttowards their employees and demonstrate an appetite for continuous improvement. Whistleblowers speak-up because they refuse to give up on their company. They have faith that the company will listen to their concerns and that lessons will be learned. Companies can mirror this optimism if they start by recognising the five benefits of whistleblowing and then follow our five-point action plan.
If customers can’t find it, it doesn’t exist. Clearly list and describe the services you offer. Also, be sure to showcase a premium service.histleblowing is an essential last line of defence in companies’ systems of internal control, and it is a weapon to root out complacency and inertia. Whistleblowing gives companies a chance to receive direct and raw feedback that is untainted byself-interest and unfiltered by management. The usual language and diplomacy of the workplace is suspended. Whistleblowers can be candid, frank and fearless. Whistleblowing can concern matters that were previously unknown to the company, or it can ensure that the seriousness and extent of a known issue is fully understood. Whistleblowing may be retrospective about things which have already gone wrong or provide the wake-up call that prevents a crisis from occurring.
Early intervention is the best form of damage limitation. Stopping the production line Andon is Japanese for ‘sign’ or ‘signal’. It is a visual aid which highlights where action is required. Andonforms part of the manufacturing process at Toyota worldwide. All employees can activate Andon. If workers on the production line activate Andon because they think they see a problem then the production line is stopped, even though this incurs significant expense.
Have you opened a new location, redesigned your shop, or added a new product or service? Don't keep it to yourself, let folks know.Modern management encourages subordinates to challenge their superiors, but this has limits. It is natural for employees to be concerned about how they are perceived because of their superiors’ power to decide their remuneration, promotion prospects, and the continuation or termination of their employment. This tension explains why whistleblowing is a particularly valuable method of feedback. It allows subordinates to speak up without fear of repercussions or having to fully justify everything they say. Whistleblowers can challenge their seniors and experts if they sense something is wrong, even if they have less knowledge or information. Permission to speak the emergency services and the military operate on the basis of particularly rigid hierarchies. However, this is balanced with an ability for subordinates to speak up in life-or-death situations. Oversight of the care for vulnerable children and adults is dependent upon whistleblowing. Five benefits of whistleblowing CORPORATE GOVERNANCE: CONNECT AND REFLECT 3 Companies’ investment in employees will be wasted unless the importance of whistleblowing is acknowledged. Whistleblowing is an important complement to employee development, engagement and pastoral care. Whistleblowingplays an equal role in motivating and empowering employees, and in managing their stress levels.
Customers have questions, you have answers. Display the most frequently asked questions, so everybody benefits. Whistleblowing provides a window on the business that would not exist in any other way. It is the equivalent of a doctor asking a patient to stick out theirtongue. Company boards may struggle to know whether significant year-on-year increases or decreases in the number of whistleblowing reports signal improvement or failure. A rise can be attributed to greater awareness or to a deterioration in management, and a decrease can similarly be interpreted as success or failure. Whistleblowing does not tend to lend itself to a binary approach. In fact, boards face similar challenges in how to interpret information about other areas. For example, some companies with high employee turnover celebrate their investment in people and the growth of their network and influence, while other companies turn inward to mourn the losses and panic that they may be unable to attract fresh talent. What is important is the debate, not necessarily whether clear conclusions are reached. Difficult conversations Mandatory publication of gender pay gaps has prompted new and profound discussions about distribution of wealth, division of power and the future of work. Publication of ratios which compare CEO pay with the pay of others at the same company and comparisons between different ethnic groups are adding new perspectives and depth to this conversation.
Generation Y takes a different attitude to work compared with their parents or grandparents and questions the status quo. The egalitarian nature of whistleblowing is appealing. A positive approach to whistleblowing will inspire confidence in employees, customers, suppliers and regulators. Sophisticated job applicants, aspiring directors and others may ask companies if they are confident that their approach to whistleblowing is sound. 360° Protect (formerly Public Concern at Work) offers companies a framework for assessing their whistleblowing arrangements. A comparison is made with similar companies in terms of sector, size and country or countries of operation. The assessment is broken down into three segments: staff engagement, effective operations and governance. Importantly, the number of whistleblowing reports does not influence scores. What lies behind the number is more important.
Companies prepare for the future by anticipating future needs and investing in the knowledge and skills of their staff. Companies also need to be learning organisations. Whistleblowing forces companies to pause, take stock and learn difficult lessons. The Black Box An air crash is a personal tragedy, and it could spell reputational disasterand commercial ruin for the airline or an aircraft manufacturer. Comprehensive investigations and subsequent safety recommendations are designed to ensure that errors are never repeated.