7 Benefits of Being a Whistleblower
Understandably, most employees do not relish the thought of becoming a “whistleblower,” which is an individual who takes the bold step of reporting incidents of misconduct or noncompliance. It takes courage to move forward with a complaint without knowing what the outcome will be.
Concerns range from being labeled as a “snitch” and becoming an outcast within your work environment to a belief that the allegations might not hold up or may prove to be unfounded. And there’s always the fear that whistleblowing can lead to retaliation or might limit your career options within the organization.
Despite all the potential drawbacks that come with whistleblowing, the pros will often outweigh the cons. There are many potential benefits to contacting our confidential, anonymous third-party hotline to file a complaint such as:
1. Stopping bad behavior before it escalates: Most incidents of inappropriate or non-compliant behavior begin as something small – but then tend to increase over time. For example, a coworker might start by “fudging” his expense report to pick up a few extra dollars. However, once he realizes that he’s getting away with it, he may begin to push the boundaries and take even more. By reporting the misconduct as soon as you become aware of it, you could end up saving the organization a substantial amount of money.
2. Making sure wrongdoers do not go unpunished: If you fail to report misconduct, you are, in effect, condoning the bad behavior. When that happens, the “bad guys” win, and you and the organization lose. By reporting what you see, you’re preventing the perpetrators from taking advantage of the situation and getting away with potentially harmful actions.
3. Empowering your coworkers to follow your lead: Our management team strives to create a healthy, productive work environment for everyone. By reporting misconduct, you’ll encourage the development of a “speak-up” culture where ethics and compliance is a top priority, and people feel empowered to become whistleblowers when a situation warrants it.
4. Protecting individuals from physical harm: Think of a circumstance where an employee does not feel the need to follow mandated safety procedures and protocols. Reporting this type of irresponsible behavior could prevent a serious incident where many of your coworkers or our customers could become injured – or worse.
5. Safeguarding your livelihood: A major ethical breach that becomes public could ruin the reputation of the organization – and possibly put it out of business and cause uninvolved workers to lose their jobs in the process. By reporting misconduct, you’re giving the organization the opportunity to identify, address and correct the situation before it becomes a serious, and potentially fatal public relations nightmare.
6. Earning the respect of your colleagues: While some members of the organization may resent you for being a whistleblower (especially if they’re negatively impacted by the fallout), there will be many more who will admire you for coming forward. They’ll no doubt wonder if they would have the courage to do the same if they were in your shoes. You’ll earn the respect of these individuals, including many members of the management team.
7. Having peace of mind: From an ethical perspective, becoming a whistleblower is often the right thing to do. While the process can be stressful and filled with moments of doubt and fear, you’ll likely feel better about yourself knowing you’re doing your part to prevent wrongful behavior in your work environment. When you look in the mirror, you’ll like the person you see.
What About Protection Against Retaliation?
As fear of retaliation is a primary reason that whistleblowers don’t come forward, it’s important to note that protection is available under the law. There are various federal statutes designed to protect reporters, and every state also has anti-retaliation laws on the books. These regulations apply to acts of retaliation ranging from unlawful termination and denial of promotions to harassment and intimidation. Our organization also has a robust anti-retaliation policy in place to safeguard the rights of whistleblowers.