Would You Blow The Whistle?

Whistleblowing“You might one day need to be a whistle-blower. Be forewarned: Your personal and professional lives will suffer.” shares Patricia Patrick, PHD, CFE, CPA, CGFM in her article with www.fraud-magazine.com, Be Prepared Before You Blow the Whistle.

True enough, once you blow the whistle, whether you wanted to be anonymous or not, your life is significantly affected. Not only yours, but that of your family and friends as well. Despite the risk, this should not stop one from doing the right thing, if it is the right thing indeed.

In recent times, whistle-blowing highlights its importance as a useful means in unearthing malpractices and putting perpetrators behind bars. It is interesting to note the trend where court cases initiated through whistle-blowing efforts are being settled successfully. Government regulators in progressive countries have started to consider taking extra steps toward supporting whistle-blowers through appropriate legislation.

“As practicing accountants or auditors, take note to always uphold this: Loyalty to your client, but fidelity to the public,” reminds Rhad Vic to his young accounting students as they were starting off the term’s discussion series.

But before even trying to blow the whistle, one must carefully consider a few important things.

Briefly, one must take into account the Art of Whistle-blowing Pyramid.

pyramid

 The pyramid above shows the ladder as to what steps to take first before blowing the whistle.

First, gather enough evidence of the anomaly. For purposes of this discussion, let’s call the act being exposed as anomaly.

Claims of anomaly should be sufficiently substantiated. Adequate proof is needed and can never be discounted. Emotions may come along the way but don’t forget to stick to the facts.

Second, exhaust means with the authorities. Authorities comprise internal and external bodies. Internal include your immediate supervisor, or your manager, or the board of directors. There are times when your immediate supervisor or manager is directly involved in the anomaly; hence, you have to jump directly to the board or to the next in rank. Whatever the case is, it is important to follow the communication flow within the organization. And if there are rules laid down regarding whistle-blowing, say, it must be in writing and it must be within a specific period of time upon discovery, this must be followed.

In this sense, authorities include the rules and procedures that must be followed in the process. This also includes the appropriate laws that are being used to support the claim. For this consideration, you need to seek the help of a trusted lawyer to attack the problem with the right bullets and with the right approach.

After seeking all possible solutions within the organization but without reaching any resolution, then it is time to approach external authorities – which may be the government, government agencies, or governing organizations.

Finally, if the authorities cannot make the resolution, then it is time to proceed to blowing the whistle – expose the anomaly to the allies. The allies include the media and the public.

Again, exposing the anomaly outside should be the last option after taking all the possible remedies in the first ladders. All possible considerations should be taken into account before even trying to blow the whistle. In a study conducted in the States, it was reported that most whistle-blowers were fired. In that study, it was noted that 74 percent of the whistle-blowers were terminated, 6% were suspended, and 5% percent were transferred against their wishes. The remaining 15 percent received poor evaluations, demoted or harassed. And 55% lost their cases.

The effect to the whistle-blower’s life can be a 180 degree turn. Blowing the whistle, whether you wish to remain anonymous or not, affect your livelihood, your career, your family, your privacy – your life.

In addition, JosephsonInstitute.com cautions that you have to make sure the situation warrants whistle-blowing. If more serious trade secrets or confidential company property is exposed, know the harm and calculated risks.

It is also good to consider learning about whistle-blower protection. It may vary depending on the jurisdiction you are in.

Blowing the whistle is a brave act of integrity. And acts of bravery come with a huge cost. When we decide to take such courageous step, let us remember to follow the art of whistle-blowing embedded in the pyramid. After all, we are encouraged to speak up when we happen to know any wrongdoings.

Witnessing some anomalies in your workplace lately? Considering blowing the whistle? Fear not. The law is on your side.

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