Published 11 May 2017
Whistle blowing is a topic of interest because it pertains to contemporary issues often kept in secrecy, privacy and confidentiality, all to the detriment of the society or the organization. While whistle blowing is feared and is a subject which many are not willing to talk about, indeed, it is the high time that the society acknowledged the role of whistle blowing in identifying and bringing into open cases of gross misconduct amongst either employees or government officials.
Whistle blowing creates room for those in low positions to have a chance to express themselves and particularly to bring into the open issues which are deliberately kept away from the public. In that way, whistleblowers are able to face those in authority who often act in an offensive manner because they believe they are not vulnerable. By highlighting incidences of violation of the law, whistle blowers in organizations promote good ethics which requires that employees whether senior staff or at the bottom line, hold on to integrity, honesty and accountability. Indeed, whistle blowing in as far as business ethic is concerned, is a show of accountability and integrity given the fact that some issues if not laid open to public scrutiny can lead to the collapse of organizations.
Often, issues that cause whistleblowers to come out in the open and highlight gross misconduct as well as violation of issues such as work safety, professional code of conduct, fraud as well as discrimination at work, are what encompass the act of whistleblowing. Therefore it is evident that whistle blowing is part and parcel of maintenance of corporate responsibility. There are some cases whereby organizations do not have in-built systems to check against violations against employees. In such cases, it is whistleblowing that is tasked with the responsibility of identifying issues that are a threat to public good. Were it not for whistleblowing, issues such as fraudulent reporting, underreporting as well as financial misconduct, which is orchestrated by top management, would end up bringing down organizations.
But thanks to whistle blowing, issues can be brought into the open either to people at authority such as managers or government officials before a great amount of damage is done. Both internal and external forms of whistle blowing enable violations against the public or employees to be scrutinized and possibly to cease. Although most organizations have internal systems, which play a role similar to that of whistleblowing, such internal systems are often incapable of controlling top management as long as it is bent on committing violations. Such in-built systems, which supplement efforts of whistleblowing, include auditor’s roles, which can bring into the open gross misconduct and violations of procedures in an organization. There have been ethical concerns surrounding the topic of whistleblowing. This includes challenges which whistle blowers face. In most cases, most people are torn between sympathizing with the organization, which suffers from negative publicity occasioned by allegations by whistle blowers.
There is a debate on whether it is moral to ‘spill the beans’, an action which portends the danger of one being terminated from employment. It takes great risk to go on with plans of whistleblowing considering challenges and potential for prosecution. It is also ethically debatable on whether it is morally right for employers to sack or engage in actions of victimization towards whistleblowers. Also, of ethical concern, is what is at stake if one goes ahead with plans to do whistleblowing. Another ethical issue which comes to form when considering whether to go ahead with whistle blowing or not is the danger one is putting to the immediate family and friends who stand to suffer if the action of whistleblowing backfires and as a result the whistleblower ends up in prison and is therefore seen as a villain.
Whistleblowing therefore, has a lot of ethical and moral implications for the whistleblower and a great deal of the good and the bad resulting from whistleblowing poses a great dilemma to employees. Equally challenging is the fact that whistleblowers are involved in a legal tussle before they can prove their case. Again, this raises ethical questions as to how appropriate and beneficial it is for an employee to undertake whistleblowing. Generally, advantages of whistleblowing in terms of moral right outdo the advantages of not whistleblowing considering that many people are suffering in organizations and in other institutions from injustices such as racial discrimination, religious discrimination as well as discrimination on the basis of national origin and gender. Therefore, as long as whistleblowing helps fight the vices in the society, then it must be viewed as ethically correct since it upholds morality.
In conclusion, whistleblowing has become a highly publicized concept given a lot of media coverage. The fact that most whistleblowers especially in terms of whistleblowing depend on the media and publicity to prove their case is a demonstration that the media plays a very important role in advancing the cause of whistleblowers. As evidenced by the frequency in which whistleblowing is given coverage in current events in the news, whistleblowing is important if the wrongs, which go on behind doors in offices, are to be brought to the fore.
- Miethe, Terance, D. 1991. Whistleblowing At Work: Tough Choices in exposing Fraud, Waste and Abuse on the Job. Westview Press.
- William, H. Shaw and Vincent Barry.2007. Moral Issues in Business 10th ed. Belmont, California: Wadsworth.