Whistleblowing occurs when an individual knows or suspects that there is some wrongdoing occurring within the organization and alerts the employer or the relevant authority accordingly.
To make this clear, it can be said that whistleblowing is:
- Noticing wrongful practices in an organization.
- Being motivated by the desire to prevent unnecessary harm to others.
- Raising concerns about misconduct within an organization or an independent structure associated with it.
- Giving information (generally to the authority) about wrongful practices in the organization.
- Exposing such practices to the press or suppressing it.
Whistle blowers are those who disclose wrong doings or unethical acts in the organization. A whistle-blower can be a former or current employer of an organization.
Possible situations that call for whistleblowing in an organization
Although this is not an exhaustive list, examples of situations in which it might be appropriate for an individual to report a wrongdoing include:
- Use of official position for personal benefit
- Financial irregularities
- Sexual harassment of a colleague
- Violations of laws or regulations
- The committing of a criminal offence
- An act of bribery or kickbacks
- Deliberate concealment of any of the above
Typology of whistleblowing
An observer of any wrongdoing may choose not to blow the whistle because of fear of retaliation. However, a whistle-blower, whether the act he observed is a wrongdoing or not, first considers the severity of the wrong and the mode of disclosing the information.
Four ways to blow the whistle
- Internally or externally
Blowing the whistle internally means reporting the wrongdoing to a supervisor within the organization, while blowing the whistle externally indicates reporting a wrongdoing to outside parties believed to have power to correct it.
- Informally or formally
Blowing the whistle formally indicates reporting wrongdoing by pursuing formal organizational communication channels, while blowing whistle informally refers to informing someone trusted about the wrongdoing.
- Anonymously or identified
When the observer uses real name or gives information about his identity, it is identified whistleblowing. However, when the informant uses a nickname or gives no information about identity, it is anonymous whistleblowing.
Testifying in a legal proceeding or before an investigative panel when the need arises.
Whistleblowing and the accountants
Accounting is the process of gathering, analysing, storing and retrieving financial data for the purpose of management decisions.
Whistleblowing on the other hand is the unauthorized disclosure of information to outsiders that are expected to take remedial actions.