Professional Ethics - Whistleblower Policy

Whistleblowers are those employees or ex-employees of a company who report their company’s misdoings and expose the wrongful and unethical actions of their employer(s). Depending on the kind of whistleblowing they do, whistleblowers are categorized into the following two types −

  • Internal whistleblowers − Internal whistleblowers report the unethical actions or illegal procedures of an employee or a group of employees of their company to someone who is a supervisor or senior authority in that company.

  • External whistleblowers − External whistleblowers report the misgivings of their companies to external agencies. Most of the external whistleblowers come from huge corporations where the top management itself passes on unethical and at times, illegal directions to follow.

There are times when whistleblowers are also employees working with various other corporations, both local and international. Due to this, many whistleblowers are also categorized based on the organizations they come from. Depending on that, there are two types of whistleblowers −

  • Federal whistleblowers − Federal whistleblowers work with government bodies and report cases that are related to national policies, etc. A recent case could be cited of Mr Edward Snowden, who used to work with NSA as a government contractor and reported NSA to be spying on people and tapping their phone calls.

  • Corporate whistleblowers − Corporate whistleblowers work with private corporate houses and leak acts of cheating and fudging records and accounts to higher authorities.

Many big insurance houses in the past had been brought to task by ethical employees who didn’t like the way the companies were functioning. One of the largest energy companies, Enron, from the US was brought to its knees by Sherron Watkins, who was the Vice President of the company and had reported massive irregularities in the accounting stages of various financial reports.

There are rules and provisions made for whistleblowers who report wrongdoing of their seniors in the company to either the authorities of the company or an external agency −

  • A whistleblower need only report the wrongdoing. He doesn’t need to investigate the unethical practices.

  • Whistleblowers can request complete confidentiality, although sometimes, the identity of the whistleblower has to be made public to conduct a proper legal investigation.

  • Whistleblowers are provided protection against any legal or illegal repercussion from employers, changes in terms of employment like assigning them poor assignment, lowering their salaries, or termination.

There are certain things that a whistleblower needs to be aware of. A whistleblower will not be guaranteed any immunity against his personal wrongdoings and for that he will be held accountable. Also, his motives for blowing the whistle need to be ethical and not to gain personal benefits.

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