The State of Whistleblowing in the Workplace

Let us face it, we all might have witnessed or become victims of wrongdoings in the workplace. However, our reactions to these wrongdoings must have varied. This could probably be due to the magnitude of the ill committed or not having access to a medium of reporting such ills. For some, they may decide to remain silent due to fear or shock. While some will open the lid and speak out by blowing the whistle.

Whenever whistle-blowing is mentioned, the names of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, a former Systems Administrator with the CIA readily come to mind. They are currently on exile for exposing wrongdoing of governments and corporate institutions. The two men both enjoy considerable level of mixed support as some see them as activists while others portray them as traitors depending on the argument being canvassed.

It is true that the cases of whistle-blowing concerning the two names mentioned above have assumed a political dimension with far reaching implications on the privacy of ordinary people, wrongdoing in private organisations does not often get required attention it deserves. A lot of reasons can be advanced for this.

Most companies have in place mechanisms to address cases like sexual harassment, abuse, molestation and all. To this end, such abuses are treated and dispensed with as they arise. There is also the issue of negative publicity and image smearing for businesses which is why wrongdoings are nipped in the bud when detected.

Some of the steps being taken by companies include a creation of whistle-blowing unit, provision of complaint box where privacy right is protected, and being decisive on cases of wrongdoing. Effectiveness of these measures is open to debate as cases of wrongdoing are still present in our workplaces.

It is also imperative to point out that wrongdoings are not limited to “one employee to another employee” , cases of “employer to employee” are also rife. Manipulation of share price and official recklessness are examples of employers’ wrongdoing. Although there are legislation enacted by various governments across the world to curb executive excesses, their effectiveness cannot be said to be top-notch.

There are cases of false alarms and grandstanding though. People now concoct stories of abuse without evidence or proof and only as a means of getting at perceived foes. It is important to remind employees who peddle falsehood that it can attract libelous charges and other grave consequences.

While reports of abuses in the workplace are still prevalent, effective communication and institutionalising ethical standards across the company are necessary ingredients that can reduce wrongdoing in the workplace to the minimum.

Bashir Baba can be engaged on Twitter @El_De_Bash


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