Supporting the whistleblowers

Visible leadership commitment, robust systems essential ingredients to effective program
By David Hutton
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/11/2011

No CEO or deputy minister wants her organization to be ridiculed in the media or subjected to criminal investigation because of misconduct of which she is unaware. No leader wants to discover his organization has broken the law, harmed its customers, cheated its shareholders or misled Parliament. Yet, such incidents happen all too often.

A recent example is the rampant illegal phone-hacking within Rupert Murdoch’s media empire — an outrage that is costing News Corporation dearly in terms of profit, reputation and future prospects. This is not an isolated incident: In any two-year period, about 40 per cent of large organizations discover (usually too late) they have been victims of significant fraud, according to international surveys by PwC.

How can such malpractice go undetected, sometimes spreading like cancer and threatening to bring down an organization? One major reason is the leaders have failed to make it safe for honest employees to challenge or report misconduct.