Whistleblowing is the process by which an employee communicates the illegal and immoral activities of the organization to the public. The employee identifies the action and gathers the relevant facts. Informing the authorities of illegal activity ensures the overall well-being of the organization and society. Most organizations view whistleblowing as an illegal act that compromises the organization’s image. Employees have a moral obligation to identify illegal and immoral activities within the organization and report them to the relevant authorities.
Conditions under Which an Employee Has a Moral Obligation to Be a Whistleblower
The employee has a moral obligation to be a whistleblower if they realize that the firms’ actions will result in serious and considerable harm to other employees or society. Whistleblowing is a professional responsibility of the employee to society (Shaw, 2017). The organization aims to meet some of the social needs and make profits. Employees have their families and friends who might get affected by the organization’s irresponsible actions. For example, an employee might notice that the organization lacks a proper waste disposal mechanism. In addition, the organization directs most of its waste into the local river that the residents rely on for basic use. In such an instance, the employee realizes that the wastes directed to the river will have adverse health effects on the locals. The employee weighs between the organization and the community. The employee will have a moral obligation to raise the issue with the local authorities for action. If the employees keep quiet on the issue, the community gets affected and may develop health issues. It would be better for the employee to raise the issue and have the organization closed instead of letting the entire community get affected by the company’s irresponsibility.
Employees can consider whistleblowing if they are sure that the management or the authorities will take relevant actions to address the highlighted issue. The organization’s management might be unwilling to address a certain immoral issue within the organization. When an employee realizes that the management supports the illegal actions of the organization and that the local authorities are less likely to take action, it would not be justifiable to raise the issue openly (Shaw, 2017). Such an employee should consider quitting the organization and seeking employment elsewhere if they feel that their career development is affected by the organization’s activities. The process of offering a remedy to an immoral act is an important consideration for the whistleblower. It would be immoral for the employee to fail to highlight particular malpractice by the organization when they are sure that speaking out will result in the organization giving up on the malpractice.
The employee has a moral obligation to be a whistleblower if they have compelling evidence that there are ongoing wrongful actions in the organization. In addition, the employer can raise an issue that occurred at one moment if such an issue is likely to affect the management, other employees, or the community adversely. Whistleblowing should not be made based on allegations (Shaw, 2017). The whistleblower must have the facts supporting their claims and be willing to prove to the management or authorities that their claims are true. The facts should include the nature of the wrongful act, the dates it occurred, the parties involved, and transactions. The whistleblower should avoid general statements that might make the case ambiguous. Being specific will help the authorities or the management address the issue swiftly and adequately. In addition, having the relevant evidence will be necessary for arguing the case in instances where the employee is victimized by the organization for whistleblowing.
If the employee has exhausted all the internal mechanisms set to address malpractice in the organization and the management has failed to take any action to address the issue, the employee has a moral obligation to be a whistleblower. They can consider reporting to the local authorities and highlight all the relevant facts concerning the case. Employees have a duty to maintain loyalty to the organization (Shaw, 2017). Loyalty involves making attempts to have issues settled internally before making them public. If the internal departments can handle the issue, the employee is prohibited from taking it up with the outside authorities. In some instances, management-sponsored malpractice cannot be handled internally. Employees have a moral obligation to report such issues to the authorities. If the risk associated with whistleblowing is significant, the employee should consider reporting anonymously.
When employees are confident that they have an appropriate moral motive, they are obligated to be whistleblowers. There must be an honest desire to expose unnecessary harm resulting from the organization’s malpractice (Shaw, 2017). The employees should ensure that their intention to expose the malpractice is not motivated by the desire to revenge or tarnish the name of the organization. Whistleblowing should be done with the intention to ensure the well-being of society and the organization. The employee should consider the objectives and goals of the organization before making a decision to be a whistleblower. They should first ensure that the malpractice will result in the organization’s goals not being met. The motive of the whistleblower should be to ensure the overall employee, management, and community wellbeing.
An Analysis of Different Positions
One might argue that employees should learn to differentiate their assigned roles and organizational oversight. There are contracts regulating the relationships between the employees and the organizations. Most organizations do not allow employees to report internal issues to the authorities. With different clauses regulating the employees’ conduct, one can argue that it is immoral for the employees to be whistleblowers. Employees should consider protecting themselves and their interests in the organization (Shaw, 2017). Raising the organization’s issues with the management may result in the victimization of the employee. To avoid confrontations with the management, the employees should avoid being whistleblowers. This argument is invalidated by the notion that organizations have a corporate social responsibility. The organization has a responsibility to ensure the well-being of society, including that of the employees. Wrongdoing within the organization adversely affects the employees and the community. Reporting such issues is one way of promoting corporate social responsibility.
Employees have a duty to maintain loyalty to the organization. The management might consider whistleblowing as a breach of the requirement to remain loyal and might initiate disciplinary actions against employees who act as whistleblowers. Workers who subordinate the organization’s interests to outside parties are subject to forced relocations, dismissals, and demotion from the status (Shaw, 2017). To avoid such issues, the employees need to consider concentrating on their assigned roles instead of whistleblowing. These arguments are not satisfactory to discourage employees’ whistleblowing. Different countries have laws that protect whistleblowers in organizations. If an employee spots malpractice that is likely to harm the community or the employees, they can anonymously report the issue and avoid any actions from the management. If the whistleblower is found out by the management, they can raise the issue with the authorities and request protection against victimization by the organization.
The good intention to save the organization and society from wrongdoing might land the employee in trouble. The employee has to consider their job and the families that depend on them for survival. Safeguarding ones’ job should be the priority of every employee (Shaw, 2017). One can argue that the duty to investigate malpractices should be left to the organization’s quality assurance and the authorities.
Employees should stick to their assigned roles, and if they feel they are not comfortable in the organization, they can seek employment elsewhere. This argument is wrong in that it disregards the well-being of society. If employees leave the organization in search of another, they may find that the new organization has some form of malpractices. Such actions will create a culture of irresponsibility in society.
Overall, employees have a moral obligation to highlight issues that might cause harm to the organization or the community and communicate them to the relevant authorities. In whistleblowing, the employees should ensure that they have the relevant facts concerning the case and that their intentions are morally supported. However, employees should consider the implications of whistleblowing and make informed choices of whether to whistleblow or not. One might argue that employees have a duty to maintain loyalty to the organization and keep the organization’s issues a secret. Such a culture will, however, promote a culture of social irresponsibility.
Shaw, W., 2017. Business ethics. 9th ed. Boston: Cengage.