Table of contents:
What is whistleblowing/whistleblower?
Being a whistleblower means revealing hidden practices of misconduct in any social sphere for the common benefit. “Blow the whistle” literally describes the process of quick revelation of different information types — you, as a whistleblower, choose which channel you would like to use for the report. Whistleblowing, therefore, is more of a concern than a complaint.
Channels vary a lot: it can be a note you left in a public place, email, hotline call, personal meeting with a supervisor. Depending on whistleblower's choice, the information will be public, confidential or anonymous (this option is quite rare) — the type of disclosure also determines the level of informant's protection.
What is a must for whistleblower?
An ad hoc law on whistleblowing protection in the country — this way, your disclosure is protected by the law. With this law, a whistleblower can sue the employer if he decides to retaliate. The whistleblower can use a lawyer's help if the whole case ends up in court.
- Good faith. Most of the laws worldwide require the whistleblower to be in good faith when reporting: simply put, whistleblowers should not have intentions of retaliation, defamation, provide fake evidence. If a whistleblower shows any motive of intentional harm, he loses protection.
- Certain age and resources. Anyone can be a whistleblower, with no objections; still, we would like to make a valid point on whistleblowing. Investigation of misconduct can last for years, and whistleblowers often lose their job or relocate. Hope for the best, but be ready for the worst — it's hard to speak up for the truth, so you should be prepared.
Why would whistleblowers expose themselves to danger if you can report anonymously? The right for the anonymous report is not universal: we can say that anonymity is 'encouraged' only in German law, general protection of anonymity is given to the informants from the EU and Ukraine. Certain anonymity options can be guaranteed in the US and worldwide: still, you have to remember that in many cases, the disclosure of your identity is obligatory to move the investigation process further.
General advice to all the whistleblowers is to consider all the risks before reporting: carefully choose the information you provide, disclosure type and conditions of confidentiality. Non-governmental organizations gladly offer free guidance for potential whistleblowers; if there is no local whistleblowing center in your country, you could use reliable online sources for advice:
- Know your rights with National Whistleblowing Center
- Find your local support center with Transparency International
- Start a platform for whistleblowing in your company with Digital Whistleblowing Fund.
If I blow the whistle, am I a snitch?
Yes and no. There is no big difference between the definition of snitches and whistleblowers: both raise their concerns and can have disguised inner grievances. Still, the difference in perception of these two terms is noticeable.
While being a snitch is something negative, condemned by society, whistleblowing is designed to reveal misconduct in socially important spheres. Whistleblowers are not traitors but heroes who report on human trafficking, corruption in healthcare, danger at the workplace and more.
Can whistleblowing be profitable?
Whistleblowing is never about finding a gold mine — only in the USA and Ukraine a whistleblower can get a reward. Though, in many countries, informants can legally get a reward for reporting the location of the criminal. Some whistleblowers did gain fame (which is equal to questionable reputation), some of them got a reward, but mostly whistleblowers have troubles finding a new job, accessing legal aid and staying safe.
Whistleblowing saves the lives of other people who are victims of misconduct — if that's a profit, whistleblowers do many right things at a time.
To finish this intro post, we must make a positive prediction for the future: based on the latest research, more people are willing to report misconduct, and more companies provide this opportunity for their employees. With more information about safe whistleblowing and positive impact of internal employee control, we are waiting for our readers to join the ranks of proud informants.