In the last several months I’ve been posting my opinions about the Department of Justice, former Attorney General Eric Holder and numerous other thoughts about whistleblowing and the 2008 financial debacle; as well as my concerns that Citi and the Too Big To Fail Banks are now heading in the same direction that landed us in the financial mess we are in. So it’s no surprise that the market is now offering even more guides to catching your company doing something wrong.
My eyebrows went up when Eric Holder– then Attorney General ,announced that the Department of Justice was encouraging whistleblowers to come forth regarding fraud and wrongdoing in their companies to encourage their voice when they see situations that lead to fraud, saying, “their evidence is critical to the work of investigators”.
I was amazed at the rewards being offered by the D.O.J .and skeptical re their claim encouraging whistleblowers. Regardless of what Holder stated, to date the evidence shows that it’s the whistleblowers themselves who are the most persecuted. I am also amazed and maybe a bit dismayed about the new books coming out on the market, providing everyday citizens guidance on how to blow the whistle should they perceive the need to.
One such is the Whistleblowers Handbook: A Step- By-Step Guide To Doing What’s Right And Protecting Yourself, by one of America’s leading whistleblowers attorneys, Stephen Kohn. Mr. Kohn’s guide offers suggestions to the legal do’s and don’ts of exposing workplace undoing. He includes six easy-reference checklists on whistleblower reward laws and other legislation.
The Amazon description says, Do you suspect that your employer is skirting safety or environmental rules, cheating on taxes, violating government contracts, committing financial fraud, or breaking the law? That your boss is a crook? Welcome to the ranks of the close to 50 percent of American workers who have witnessed fraud or misconduct at work—about half of whom take initial steps to “do the right thing” by reporting it.
Few get far. Despite a revolutionary spate of laws in recent years that not only protect whistleblowers but also provide for large monetary rewards, the legislative labyrinth remains daunting. All too often this means silence, lost court cases, damaged careers, and a failure to effect real change.
I applaud Mr. Kohn and he is right. Few do get far; few are successful in causing real change. Sherry Hunt, I and dozens others are the fallout from reporting whistleblowing. Yet regardless of the encouragement of the D.O.J and books like Mr. Kohn’s notwithstanding, there is a better way. And that is, business need s to do the right thing. What do businesses like Southwest Airlines, Container Store, Toyota, Trader Joes, Zappos and countless others have in common?
A culture that is people centered. Openness is valued. Cultures of trust are created. The best doesn’t need D.O.J. incentives or whistleblowing guides read under the table.
Are companies today too naïve or too arrogant to even think their employees don’t see what is going on when there is a blatant bending of the rules? Are we so wound up in profits at all costs and quarterly reviews that we have lost sight of the purpose of business? Yes it is to make a profit and to benefit consumer’s. But a profit at all costs? Is that what capitalism truly is?
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@RichardMBowen”]Are companies today too naïve or arrogant to even think their employees don’t see what’s going on?[/tweetthis]
Let me ask you- at the end of the day how do you feel about the work you’ve done, about the purpose and mission of your accomplishments? About the company’s mission and the contribution you’ve made to it? If you’re proud of your company and its purpose and the contribution you make, chances are your company is one of the many, and yes there are many that are doing it right- not fraudulently.
But- hey- if your company is not doing it right- get up, stand up- take the right steps- read the books.
I’m for T-shirts, which say stamp out whistleblowing- because we’ve made the need to do so obsolete.