Guest post by Emma Brown
Whistleblowing is no new concept, yet it remains a somewhat hushed notion for some companies. A quick Google search nets plenty of results with everything from hotline companies to advice if you're the one about to 'blow the whistle.'
As an ethics hotline provider, we're starting to see a shift in the attitude towards blowing the whistle. More companies are acknowledging the need to introduce an anonymous reporting mechanism into their policies and culture.
Funny though, is that there are still some articles out there giving advice on being fully prepared if someone does take the step to blow the whistle. They reiterate that you should be able to prove your statement before you even make the statement and also be prepared for possible retaliation.
Now again, we're seeing a shift away from this attitude, but unfortunately it still does exist.
A a 2010 survey found that 74% of whistleblowers were terminated. Another 15% of whistleblowers were harassed or given poor evaluations.
More recently, employees are still being fired for speaking up.
This is where the importance of having an external and anonymous hotline comes in. And the importance of promoting it.
Even with a monetary incentive, without reliable protection possible, whistleblowers will tend to stay quiet rather than risk losing their jobs or facing discrimination. This is striking considering the most common detection method of fraud for nonprofit, for-profit, and other businesses, is anonymous employee tips.
In AFCE’s Report to the Nations, they found that in companies that had a whistleblowing hotline in place, over 40% of fraud was detected through tips.
The longer an unethical or illegal action goes on the more damage it can cause to the company, so it seems that common sense plays a role, in that it is in the best interest of the company to detect these violations. So then why is the Internet stressing the need to prepare?
Of course 'blowing the whistle' is a serious matter and shouldn't be done simply because your coworker smells like cigarettes and black coffee all the time. But when over 40% of fraud detection is through tips, if a worker truly has insight into a harmful activity without actually having substantial evidence they should have the opportunity to come forward.
Anonymous hotlines allow for this by protecting the reporter's identity. This prevents retaliation through discrimination, harassment, or job termination whether the tip leads to a revelation or turns out to just be a misunderstanding.