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Whistleblowing as a Social Issue in the Workplace Essay

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Updated: Feb 23rd, 2022

Introduction

Whistleblowing is the act of speaking up about wrongdoing for the public’s greater good. It is an essential asset to a country as it involves loyal individuals who would somewhat be abused but uncover the truth. For many nations, there are laws provided by the state to protect whistleblowers and which they can use to sue employers if they receive wrongful termination from their jobs or in the case of witness protection (Malek, 2010). Thus, whistleblowing remains an essential asset in any administration, especially in nations where the justice system is well defined. In many instances, corruption is unchallenged because people do not speak out against many acts, not knowing their voices are potent weapons against injustices.

Citizens in many countries face high personal risks when they blow the whistle, especially when there is no legal protection, and thus they are deterred from speaking out. This paper will discuss whistleblowing from two different vantage points, that is, the society and the workplace points of view. In this regard, the report will focus on both the advantages and the disadvantages of defector with respect to society, marginal working groups like immigrants, and the workplace. In addition, the paper will examine how various social controls can be used to support whistleblowing positively. In the end, the report will recommend different intervention tactics and highlight possible economic or social benefits that would be realized if the recommendations were implemented.

Whistleblowing from Societal and Workplace Points of View

Whistleblowing is an effective mechanism if one is willing to be unique and speak out on behalf of others before a small problem turns into a mountain of issues. Some individuals opt to endure economic degradation by acting in what they think is per the group to avoid going incongruent to the majority (Bellaby, 2018). To compromise or to maintain what one believes in can be acceptable forms of the paradox. However, for whistleblowing to be effective, the puzzle should be bypassed because standing with the truth is paramount. It is ineffective in most cases of corruption and making the government accountable because speaking out will cause no change. Some individuals believe that speaking out will do little to change the situation; for instance, internally working for the government can be complicated for possible whistleblowing. Thus, ineffectiveness is felt when the government does not provide a clause in the constitution for external whistleblowing or protection to whistleblowers (Eisenstadt & Pacella, 2018).

Fear of separation is another negative aspect of whistleblowing, where individuals do not fear the unknown but fear what they know will happen after speaking out. (Malek (2010) asserts that risk and certainty is a dilemma that faces whistleblowers. The paradox occurs in the thoughts where an individual does not want to be seen as a non-player or disloyal, but then the unwillingness to speak up will cause harm upon discovery—for instance, blame and suspicion (Culiberg & Mihelič, 2017). A good example is where an organization or the government commissions a project. The project’s chairperson has put so much energy into the project and feels that it will be successful. An individual who is a financial consultant realizes that the plan will fail but chooses to keep quiet because he or she does not want to kill the chairperson’s spirit. Due to the uncertainty surrounding whistleblowing, the whistleblower wants to be on the right side of things if the project succeeds.

There is a definite difference between how whistleblowing works in society and the view from the workplace. For example, in the workplace, there may lack clear, precise criteria that an individual can provide information to the people in authority unanimously. Adding to this, an individual may be compelled to be silent about most things for fear that he or she will be termed as disloyal (Moy, 2018). Even when the workplace individuals are at a more advantage of accessing the information, they embark on some risk analysis that may occur if they speak out. However, in society, there may be occurrences of whistleblowing because the individual does not stand to lose much. The only hindrance to whistleblowing in society or the public is the authenticity of the information and how it will be received generally (Culiberg & Mihelič, 2017).

The other difference in whistleblowing viewpoints between society and the workplace is the type of complaints raised (Givati, 2016). In the community and in particular for government and public institutions, there is no limit to which allegations can be built. However, it is not the case in the place of work because there is provision for what claims should be raised and to what extent, meaning can the information be disclosed externally or not. There is a consideration of whether the data is about whistleblowers only or other people in the workplace. According to Lewis (2018), there is an exemption to the deliberation where particular grievances are so endemic that they become interested in the public.

Further, Farooqi et al. (2017) explain an interconnectedness between the societal and the workplace view of whistleblowing. The connection happens when reports and grievances in the workplace are sidelined and buried, and therefore the whistleblower is prompted to spill the information to the public. In this regard, the perception of whistleblowing is that the action is to prevent any misconduct in the workplace to benefit the individuals in and outside the workplace. However, caution should be taken because some whistleblowers have personal and selfish interests like reaping some benefits and rewards. Before the information is accepted, it should be scrutinized and verified (Farooqi et al., 2017).

It is paramount that whistleblowing is considered a priority, and culture of speaking out should be cultivated. The philosophy can be useful if the government safeguards the whistleblowers by introducing strong whistleblower legislation that can also see that the assertions are carefully scrutinized. From the discussion, there is both effectiveness and ineffectiveness in using whistleblowing to fight corruption (Chen, 2019). Fear, coupled with the government’s financial ability and power to silence a whistleblower, causes ineffectiveness in an attempt to maintain a good face across the borders. It is a useful tool because it unravels many mysteries that are hidden from the typical person. When it is used accordingly, the device is capable of keeping the government on its toes. It also serves as a mechanism where the government can account for every project they undertake. Conclusively, the similarity between the societal and workplace in whistleblowing is that there is a revelation of unhidden information. The two viewpoints should, therefore, be combined to uncover the truth (Bellaby, 2018).

Firms, organizations, and employers can significantly benefit from whistleblowing as it helps them mitigate the losses or potential losses that could have been caused as a result of misconduct by an employee. Organizations can benefit from whistleblowing as it helps reduce the risk that the business would have incurred due to litigation, fines, criminal sanctions, or adverse publicity (Malek, 2010). It should be noted that employers that encourage whistleblowing are more likely to receive internal whistleblowing alerts than those who discourage it, which means that they can be able to deal with it on time. Organizations lose vast amounts of money in employee theft, improper use of equipment and resources, and employees falsifying documents. As a result, organizations stand to gain when whistleblowers come forward because they feel safe and report misconduct before it escalates. While it may not seem as important to report workplace issues, it is critical to state that employers benefit a lot when their workers can report problems on time (Chen, 2019).

Immigrant workers face all kinds of threats from their employers like being fired, being reported to the authorities, or being deported if they blow the whistle (Castro et al., 2016). As a result, many of them remain underpaid and overworked, working for over a hundred hours a week for three dollars an hour. Consequently, many persons would rather see corruption and other social vices prevail instead of whistleblowing for few of blowback or retaliation. On the contrary, the act of blowing the whistle has rescued many immigrant workers from discrimination and oppression. In addition, due to whistleblowers, many discriminated employees have sued employers and companies and got compensation (Castro et al., 2016).

Backing Whistleblowing Using Various Social Controls

Society is slowly starting to accept and promote a friendly and sustainable culture with lobby groups advocating for the rights of those who wish to speak out. Many whistleblowers receive retaliation and fail on their mission due to the current state laws and lack of sufficient federal laws. In many nations, whistleblowers experience a lack of legal representation when they want to stand up for organizations or government breaches in the workplace (Park et al., 2020). At the moment, the Whistleblower Protection Act is only able to protect personnel who are under the Federal Government, leaving those in the private-sector vulnerable depending on the legislation that is available in their local administration, and which has a short time in which they are supposed to report any misconduct. Some States offer recommendable policies to encourage people to come out and speak against the social vices. However, other states offer no protection at all. Thus, society is still far behind in the implementation of safeguard rules for individuals who are willing to stand up for what they believe in or to challenge the social issues in the workplace (Park et al., 2020).

Firms need to enact policies and teach them to their employees. For instance, establishments, especially multinational corporations, need to create an environment where ethical behavior is valued and rewarded and inspire and promote moral responsibility. When the leadership and management in an organization are willing to reassure the whistleblowing culture, this boosts and informs them that the management cares for its employees and that they take their social issues responsibly and with seriousness. As a result, many employees, especially those marginalized like the immigrant workers, will come out and voice their concerns.

The report has established that they benefit the organizations, employers, employees, and society due to whistleblowing. Thus, employers should be ready to make whistleblowing policies and embed them into the organizational culture, visions, and mission so that the employees are aware that they can either internally or externally speak their concerns to the management (Berg, 2020). Many employees will only be willing to voice their workplace concerns to the authorities if they are sure. They can be guaranteed that the organization is ready to come up with a problem-solving mindset. Thus, establishing and enacting policies and having in place ethically-minded leaders can be viewed as essential social control that will support whistleblowing (Krambia, 2020).

Organizations could create and boost whistleblowing culture by offering employees incentives and rewards for those who can raise social issues that are valid within the workplace. While every firm cannot offer incentives to employees who raise valid concerns, those companies and employers who are able to recognize this as part of their responsibility, gain a competitive edge and are more likely to receive loyalty from their employees. According to Givati (2016), offering incentives such as money dramatically increases the number of times employees report misconduct in the workplace. It is an excellent opportunity for the leaders to emphasize personal benefits and the employees’ moral obligations as this has the potential to strengthen individual employee interest in becoming a champion in their respective departments in the workplace. Incentives give a positive notion that the organization’s management is aware and is willing to reward those who blow the whistle on wrongdoing that occur at the workplace. Altering the general public’s perception of whistleblowing may be challenging for both employees and employers (Mesmer & Viswesvaran, 2015). However, offering incentives and rewards may prove to be a great tool and a sound intervention method in the workplace in cases where reporting of misconduct has not yet begun.

Useful Interventions and Possible Economic or Social Benefits if the Interventions are Implemented

There are recommendations for legislative principles developed by Transparency International with regard to whistleblowing. The first recommendation being giving whistleblowing a broader meaning than confining it to corruption and specific dangers (Anvari et al., 2019). The other suggestions are that whistleblowing will have comprehensive coverage and protection for the belief that the information disclosed is correct at the time it is revealed. Additionally, there are recommendations to protect the whistleblower and provision for the right to personal security. The proposal shows signs of growth and change of perception of whistleblowing. The plans will prompt more people to speak out because of the assurance of protection (Farooqi et al., 2017). Thus, there will be more freedom and an expansive scope in whistleblowing in the future than in the current situation.

The pressure on whistleblowing in the numerous nations across the globe forces many people to step back. However, multiple states are putting into place a disclosure that will see that they are exempted from the disciplinary proceedings (Culiberg & Mihelič, 2017). Still, the burden will fall solely on the information disclosed and proving whether the whistleblower has broken the law. Additionally, the right oath of confidentiality and loyalty shall be given to the whistleblower. The developments are promising, and prospectively within a few years, the voice of the people shall be heard. As a result, the need to have an exclusive agency that protects whistleblowers’ rights is necessary (Krambia, 2020).

The agency should develop and implement anti-corruption policies that address and investigate information conveyed by whistleblowers (Eisenstadt & Pacella, 2018). In the future, various nations should be steps ahead because there are enough experience and infrastructure to support whistleblowers as they convey their information. Additionally, mechanisms of providing data should be put into place, for example, hotlines and e-services, because the channels are essential to whistleblowers who are in turn, are critical in keeping the government accountable and on its toes. In the next, few years if whistleblowing is given the importance that it deserves, there will be a reduction in corruption and more stability in many countries (Eisenstadt & Pacella, 2018).

Organizations and companies can benefit economically when they implement whistleblowers controls and intervening recommendations in leadership failure cases. Clients are more likely to buy products and services from a company that have a good image and upholds their values and principles rather than a company that mistreats its employees. According to Moy (2018), high employee turnover negatively affects an organization’s revenue. Still, an employee who feels that they are treated fairly and valued by their employer is likely to report misconduct incidences and are also expected to remain as long-term employees and loyal to the company. As a result, organizations and firms benefit economically from a workforce that feels both safe and valued. A labor force that is satisfied with how the company treats them means a clientele representing a brand image resulting in high revenue creation (Berg, 2020).

In general, society will benefit both socially and economically when workers feel safe when they report social issues that affect them in their workplaces. When there is a connection between employees’ ethical and moral behavior in any given workplace, the results will ensure that workplace violence, theft, or employee misconduct is kept at its minimum. For a long while, society has been looking for ways in which they can improve the living standards of every person, and this means that if these businesses are able to protect whistleblowers, then they are able to enhance the trust and morality in the business sector, which translates to more revenue for the company (Mesmer & Viswesvaran, 2015). Issuing incentives and protection to whistleblowers is a factor that potential buyers, customers, employees, and even CEOs, who are a brand image of the company, cannot pass. Thus, in the long run, whistleblowing is not a method that aims to improve a personal image or gains but a mechanism that seeks to enhance societal values and the position of society in terms of social behavior and economic power (Anvari et al., 2019).

Conclusion

To sum up, corruption remains unchallenged because many people do not realize their voices are powerful weapons against injustices. The paper has highlighted whistleblowing from two different points of view: society and the workplace point of view. In this regard, the paper has focused on both the benefits and the shortcomings of whistleblowing with respect to society, marginal working groups like immigrant workers, and the workplace. The paper has also examined how various social controls can be utilized to promote whistleblowing positively. In the end, the paper has listed different intervention tactics and highlighted possible economic or social benefits that would be realized if the recommendations were implemented. Whistleblowers need to know that they are protected so that they can speak out the ills in the society. Otherwise, those in positions of power or in government will not enjoy the advantages and contributions that those who blow the whistle can offer. The society benefits economically morally when people can speak against societal vices. For instance, people who are being discriminated like the immigrant workers can get help if someone spoke out. It is our responsibility as a society to encourage those who blow the whistle in the fight agaist corruption.

References

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Castro, A., Fujishiro, K., Sweitzer, E., & Oliva, J. (2016). How immigrant workers experience workplace problems: A qualitative study. Archives of Environmental & Occupational Health, 61(6), 249–258. Web.

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Moy, G. G. (2018). The role of whistleblowers in protecting the safety and integrity of the food supply. Npj Science of Food, 2(1), 8. Web.

Park, H., Bjørkelo, B., & Blenkinsopp, J. (2020). External whistleblowers’ experiences of workplace bullying by superiors and colleagues. Journal of Business Ethics, 161(3), 591–601. Web.

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