Why Whistleblowers are Necessary for Society and Need to Be Protected
A whistleblower can be defined in many ways but is generally understood as referring to an individual who discloses information about a company that demonstrates unethical, illegal, or dangerous conduct that has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur. Whistleblowing generally refers to the disclosure of some kind of wrongdoing by the company. Examples of “wrongdoing” vary but could include instances of fraud, damage to the environment, threats to public health and safety, miscarriages of justice, obstruction, corruption and bribery, or other types of crimes. After disclosing the wrongful conduct, many whistleblowers feel great emotional distress which is often accompanied by harassment, isolation, threats, reduced pay, and even getting fired from their employment.
Nevertheless, despite the negative personal and professional consequences that result from blowing the whistle, individuals still feel the need to disclose instances of wrongdoing in order to better support society. For this reason, individuals ought to be encouraged to make these disclosures as whistleblowers and feel confident that the law will protect them.
There are many reasons why an individual who discloses such information should be protected under the whistleblower laws as well as encouraged by society. First, whistleblowers help society by reducing corruption in the world. Corruption impedes globalization and international cooperation and prevents the free market from thriving. Whistleblowers are needed to expose existing and potential corruption so that it can be immediately halted. In fact, many countries have recognized the role of whistleblowers in disclosing global corruption and have begun to enact laws protecting whistleblowers.
Second, whistleblowing is the ethical thing to do for everyone. When an individual voices a concern about a company, they are promoting the values of honesty, transparency, and accountability. This can foster an environment where everyone is communicating and working effectively without the obstruction of fraud, illegality, or other wrongdoing. Third, contrary to what many people may say, whistleblowers are loyal to their companies. Whistleblowers are usually employees of the company they are reporting upon, competitors, or other stakeholders. These individuals typically have access to information about their company such as illegal acts, fraud, crime, wrongdoing, etc. When that individual blows the whistle on their company, they are being loyal to their company. Fraud, illegality, and wrongdoing can severely harm a company—from its business contacts, customer base, and financial statements to its reputation and integrity. Blowing the whistle is sometimes the only way to protect an individual’s company.
Fourth, whistleblowing can open the company’s eyes to its substandard internal policies—such as its code of conduct, code of ethics, compliance policy, or anti-retaliation program. After the wrongdoing is exposed, companies may deem it necessary to implement more stringent and effective internal controls to prevent wrongdoing in the future, which can save time, money, and hassles. Fifth, whistleblowing allows for justice to be served. When an individual discloses wrongdoing about their company or an individual within their company, the law can hold those culpable individuals accountable for their actions. This creates a society where both wrongdoing is impermissible and disclosing such wrongdoing is beneficial. These are just some examples of why whistleblowers need to be protected in society and need to be encouraged to report instances of fraud, illegality, crime, or other wrongdoing that they feel violate the law. There is currently a petition posted online that asks members of society to sign this petition that asks Congress to recognize and designate July 30th as “National Whistleblower Day” in order to create an environment where all individuals can safely report wrongdoing without the fear of subsequent retaliation.