When asked if it is a good idea to always tell the truth, I often err on the side that it is best to tell the truth. Yes, that means in all cases. I frequently am heard quoting Psalms 15: 1, 4 (NIV) in order to back up my philosophy on this. Does it mean that I always volunteer every detail of everything openly? No. Sometimes I require the correct question to be asked. Is my reference of Scripture used out of context, most likely, yet it is still applicable. I paraphrase it as follows – “How do you or I enter the Holy Hill? By keeping my oath, even when it hurts.” This means that even in times where I may end up getting into trouble, I often volunteer the information to get whatever punishment out of the way. Do I fib a little now and again? Possibly, I am a fisherman.
Is there a difference between being a “team player” and a Whistleblower? As discussed by Scharfenberg (2007), whistleblowers are those who would report offenses committed by those who have been trusted with certain responsibilities. Often it seems that this would revolve around financial accountability. However, there are examples of other areas of whistleblowing.
Being a “team player” seems to be the common term for allowing certain unethical behavior to occur. Most of the time, it would seem that this behavior, while expected, is worse after such an offense would be found out. Team players would end up getting into just as much trouble as the offending party.
When might the two be one in the same? The only time I could think of a team player being the same thing as a whistleblower would be if it were the “team’s” job to blow the whictle on certain types of behavior. As mentioned by Rae and Wong (Rae & Wong, 2012), James Burke, CEO of Johnson & Johnson during the 1980s asked employees to report how the company was doing in regards to its credo. In this case, by holding the company accountable, Burke required his employees to be whistleblowers.
When should someone consider stepping up and confronting a boss who is demonstrating unethical conduct? This depends on the situation. If my boss’s actions were illegal or harmful to our patients, I would be required by law to inform someone. However, my boss and her two bosses are Christians. While I am pretty sure there are no perfect Christians, I would like to think that most of us would opt to choose legal and ethical business practices. On the chance that one of us would not, I guess it would be important to report any illegal or harmful activities to either their bosses or the state.
What will be the consequences? Once again, the consequences would depend on the manner in which the situation was handled. If my boss was striking a patient, I would expect to be fired for not reporting the abuse. However, if my boss was billing extra to patient insurances as a means to create a “departmental budget cushion” I would probably not be fired for not reporting it. However, I would mention it to the boss who I found to be the culprit. If I noticed it continuing, I would report it to their supervisor. My boss is pretty receptive to criticism. If she were doing something blatantly wrong, she would want to be called on it.
However, I was in a situation many years ago where I called a boss on her encouraging nurses to be abusive to their staff, including me. When she told me that I could deal with the way the nurses swore and the things they said or go find another job, I told her that her actions were wrong. I reported her to her boss, the Director of Nursing at the facility I worked at. This manager pursued me and had two particular nurses tell me I was worthless and cursing at me repeatedly for the next year and a half until I finally told one to leave me alone and that she should never question if I am abandoning my patients. I was then fired for insubordination. I walked out of that job on my last day and sighed a great breath of relief, which is when I realized that I cannot work for a company that is willing to treat their staff like that, and I have never done so since.
Bottom line is, it doesn’t matter what the consequences are for blowing a whistle. Especially if it is just a J-O-B. Jobs are (less recently) a dime a dozen, and can be replaced while keeping one’s integrity intact. We should always seek to maintain our integrity, even when those meant to guide or supervise us may not. If keeping a job means sacrificing our integrity, then we need to seriously consider the value of that job.
Davidson, J. (2012, September 28). House approves federal whistleblower protections. Retrieved from The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/post/house-approves-federal-whistleblower-protections/2012/09/28/ac7b72a4-099c-11e2-afff-d6c7f20a83bf_blog.html
Rae, S. B., & Wong, K. L. (2012). Beyond integrity: A Judeo-Christian approach to business ethics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
Scharfenberg, C. (2007). Federal “whistleblower” protection system is anything but. Center for Investigative Reporting.