Would you hire a whistleblower?
I think the term “whistleblower” is an insult!! Why you may ask? Here’s why. An organization will invest tons of money in training its employees to “embrace” its values, mission statement , code of conduct, etc. When someone actually raises a concern about an issue that is going against those values and training and can’t get the management to make a change, the “powers that be” find ways to punish, keep the person quiet, may even fire them! In addition, the price that person will pay includes loss of income, loss of friends, relationship issues with family, etc.
Recent research that I read, reported that it takes a whistleblower, on average, three years to find another job! How many jobs were denied due to being a whistleblower I wonder? This type of “punishment” goes against every ethical/moral principle that many organizations preach, train, and communicate to the employees and the public. We should be calling them “Value enforcers” or “values advocates” something other than whistleblowers! We should be rewarding “whistleblowers” not punishing them.
Yet, what does this say about the organization’s ethics program, i.e. its values, mission statement, etc.? I find that it is easier to intellectually agree with the positions of whistleblowers, i.e. reasons why, cause and effect, etc. but the question would you hire a whistleblower is really where the “rubber meets the road!”
Is it that the organization doesn’t want to take a chance that this person would be a hindrance rather than an example of “doing the right thing?”
Conversely, could it not be that keeping this person or hiring this person would send a message that not only do we believe in ethics and ethical behavior but we value the ones who actually “live it?”
Think of the effect of your people for either choice!
If your organization doesn’t seriously consider hiring a whistleblower and/or consider rewarding those who report legal/ethical lapses, my experience tells that there are some serious flaws in your ethical culture.