Whistleblower, Traitor, Hero, Scoundrel

So what do you think of Snowden?

Whistleblower, Traitor, Hero, or Scoundrel?

This current situation seems so easy, right?  And, of course, not to mention the emotional fervor it has created among those who might say “whistleblower and hero” or those who say “traitor and scoundrel”.

Oh but that is government and politics.  It will never happen to any of us.

Yet, today nearly half (45%) of us observe some form of ethical wrongdoing in our workplace or even in our volunteer work, social organizations, or religious institutions.  This can take the form of stealing, harassment, abusive behavior, poor quality, lying, or other nefarious activities.

The good news is that such problems will be reported by two-thirds (65%) who see it.  And guys, we have some work to do.  Women report it more often than men.

Of those who report, most often it is reported to their direct manager or supervisor.  In other cases, it is reported to a senior manager.  This accounts for 66% of all reports.  Clearly, those in leadership and management positions have both a responsibility to act as well as a responsibility to enforce.

So what gets reported?  The following scenarios are reported most often:

  • sexual harassment
  • theft, stealing
  • abusive behavior
  • health violations
  • poor quality
  • substance abuse

Do those who report receive a parade, plaque, or platitudes from leadership?

Well, guess what.  Sometimes leadership and co-workers, instead, retaliate by excluding the person from work assignments, activities and decisions.  It can even lead to verbal abuse and threats of job loss.  Does this happen often?  Studies show that 22% report some form of retaliation.

Ok, so what can leaders do?

Encourage reporting.  Investigate appropriately, objectively, and thoroughly.  Avoid retaliation, even protecting people from it.

But perhaps the most important thing leaders can do is to create an environment and culture that operates ethically—one that includes mechanisms to report without retribution.


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