Whistleblowers in the Workplace

“What is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” (author unknown)…

What is popular is not always right (ethical), what is right (ethical) is not always popular.  But, it’s not about being comfortable and just doing what is going to be popular.  This is especially true in the business world today.

Businesses and their ethical responsibility have increasingly become a topic widely covered throughout the media world today.  Mostly through examples of businesses that have made some incredibly unethical decisions and impacted thousands of people as a result.  It’s not necessarily that unethical decisions are being made more frequently in the world today, but that people have become more aware of such decisions and compelled to right the wrongs.

Enter Whistleblowers.

Whistleblowers and truth tellers in the business place serve a critical role to ensure integrity and ethics are a priority in business decisions.  As Christians in the workforce, we should value honesty and share the truth when problems arise.  Regardless of the short or long term backlash or consequences, truth telling and ethics should be of utmost importance for individuals and the organizations they work for.  It is more often than not that the truth will eventually come out anyways, and personal integrity and responsibility is much more significant than turning a blind eye or contributing to unethical work.

There is often a clear difference between being a team player and a whistleblower in most situations.  A team player may often be seen as someone that just settles for status quo and doesn’t question things like unethical behavior within an organization, whereas a whistleblower will most likely be stepping out based on what they see as right or wrong within business practices.  In some situations it could also be possible for the two to be viewed as one in the same if there are multiple people with concerns about unethical practices or an individual feeling as though they are acting for the “good of the team” by reporting concerns as a whistleblower.

Personally, I would consider stepping up and confronting a boss about unethical conduct when I recognize it as such.  The sooner the better. As I’ve learned in my studies, ethics is a fairly complex and gray matter that can be challenging to always identify the right and wrong.  However, after proper analysis and discussion with trusted colleagues, I would feel compelled to approach a boss in a tactful and respectful way to address concerns about unethical conduct.  I simply couldn’t let such things slide or go unreported.  My hope would be that there wouldn’t be any consequences if my boss and peers are truly wanting to do what is right and have the overall good of the organization in mind, but that might be a bit naive.  I know that I prefer that people address any concerns with my work directly with me in a constructive way, and I’d do my best to do the same without sounding like a complainer or whiner, but ultimately wanting to be above reproach as an individual and representative of the larger organization I work for.

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  1. Justin R. says:

    I wholeheartedly agree that being above reproach should be the main focus of every employee within an organization. But people are people and our human nature is our default. So unlawful behavior and lying is just a part of life when dealing with people. As Christians we desire to seek after holiness because Jesus commanded it of us. But unbelievers are only held to the general idea of ethics for the sake of ethics. I would like to think that everyone would have a desire to point out unlawful behavior and to bring truth to light. But when a man has a family to feed and his livelihood is on the line, I am sure that it is much easier to keep his mouth shut and keep his head down.

    Do you think that a whistleblower is always motivated by the truth alone though? Do think that it is possible for a whistleblower to be motivated by selfish motives? You talked about a team player vs. a whistleblower and how they are opposite to each other. But I believe that a true team player would go to the team or person that is doing the unlawful or inappropriate action and confront them first. If they didn’t comply, I think that they would blow the whistle because they would know that the truth is best for the team. Before blowing the whistle to everyone that can hear, I think that the best way to handle things is to work it internally first and then go outside.

    Thanks for your comments!


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