How Can Whistleblowing Help a Business?


THERE are numerous factors that affect the health of a business. At the present moment, the factors to which most experts and executives are facing relate to market factors, both nationally and internationally. But there are countless internal elements that can make or break a business – with an underrated treatment for internal struggle found in the form of whistleblowing.

What is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing is a term that describes the internal reporting of issues and incidents to authority figures within or without a given business or outfit. A whistleblower is typically an employee or contractor within an organisation, that attains evidence of improper or illegal acts and passes that evidence on – whether to management, an independent body or even the press.

There have been a number of high-profile examples of whistleblowing in the last 20 years, pertaining in particular to the illegal actions of armed forces and intelligence agencies. Arguably the most famous whistleblower is Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who obtained evidence of mass surveillance programmes run jointly by intelligence services and international governments.

The Benefits of Whistleblowing

Of course, the fate of public whistleblowers is not often encouraging. Snowden has been living in exile since the aftermath of his revelations, while other whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning have seen disproportionate treatment at the hands of their national justice systems. In many cases, whistleblowing is treated more seriously than the illegal acts uncovered by whistleblowers.

This can have an unfair impact on how people see whistleblowing; rather than mutually disagreeable act, whistleblowing can in fact be a crucial approach to business transparency and growth. Without whistleblowers, bad actors within a given organisation may harm the business’ financial future with illegal activity – permanently crippling the business both fiscally and reputationally if caught.

Whistleblowing empowers workers within a company to act within their own interests, and with the best interests of their overall employer in mind. If allegations are taken seriously, steps can be taken to remedy issues and the business can retain its legal standing.

How to Encourage Whistleblowing

But with the public image of whistleblowing so tainted by the treatment of prominent whistleblowers, it is understandable that employees may not necessarily trust your business with their safety in the event of uncovering bad practices. As such, it is important for your business to signal its support for whistleblowers, both internally and publicly.

This forms a key part of Environmental, Social and Governance strategy, or ESG for short. ESG strategy enables a business to properly reckon with its impacts on a number of fronts, and institute new ways to tackle their environmental and social burdens. Under the Governance bracket, whistleblowing can be enshrined and protected – even rewarded.

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