In the US alone there has been a massive spike in whistleblowing. The pandemic gave employees distance from their coworkers and company culture. This distance helped many people to recognize organizational problems and choose to take action.
Simultaneously, as organizations continue to embrace transparency, whistleblowing and anonymous reports have become tools for creating environments where communication is encouraged and employees feel protected enough to raise concerns.
The following examples show how whistleblowing can foster a more open work environment and end corruption within an organization.
Despite their best intentions, managers can have blind spots when it comes to employees' needs. The sports equipment retailer SPORTISIMO implemented a whistleblowing system and started to receive reports about small workplace issues. For example, the store didn’t stock certain shoes for women. These easily implemented changes go a long way toward creating a happier, more productive workforce.
In 2021, Internal documents from Facebook (now Meta) were leaked to The Wall Street Journal, lawmakers and regulators. The documents revealed that Meta had been aware of the harmful effects its platforms were having on teenagers. (One study found that roughly 13% of teenagers in the UK linked Instagram to suicidal thoughts.)
Despite this, the company had done little to address these issues. When Frances Haugen came forward to testify on this negligence, it caused Meta to pause the production of ‘Instagram for kids’ and adjust its practices.
If Meta hadn’t ignored its own internal reports and addressed the negative effects of their platforms, this leak wouldn’t have been necessary.
A government office implemented a whistleblowing system and started to receive reports of abuse and bullying coming from one department. After an investigation, the office let the head of that department go.
Sometimes whistleblowing and anonymous reports aren’t about wrongdoing but about fear of failure. For one organization that implemented an anonymous whistleblowing channel, most of the reports didn’t concern wrongdoing or abuse. Instead, they were from employees who needed clarification and guidance and were afraid to speak up. After the company started addressing these issues, more and more employees felt safe coming forward and asking for help.
Whistleblowing is one of the most effective ways to fight corruption within an organization and one of the fastest ways to address internal issues. Governments across the globe are increasing the protections offered to whistleblowers, encouraging this trend.
Whistleblowing - just a bureaucracy or an opportunity for your company?