While "whistleblowing" frequently has a somewhat negative connotation to it, the end results are often positive because much-needed change comes about. Likewise, "transparency" has its own negative connotation with positive results. Here is a closer look at the positives and repercussions of whistleblowing and transparency.
Whistleblowing is knowing that the establishment or the company you work for is doing something wrong, illegal and/or unethical and deciding to tell someone outside the workplace about it. It is acceptable to be a whistleblower when illegal acts such as fraud, embezzlement, extortion and other "victimless" crimes are committed. It may put you in a very uncomfortable situation and you may even lose your job. However, these crimes are not victimless and the people they affect are often those that could have benefited in some other way from the stolen money or stolen fiscal support.
Transparency is the new buzzword in both politics and business. Since numerous financial scandals have rocked both of the sectors, CEOs and politicians are more aware of the need to show the public what they are spending tax dollars and company dollars on. It also means that, in order to be transparent, these sectors are refusing government funds they do not need and refusing financial assistance when they are adequately covering the costs of daily operations.
When a politician or company is not transparent or hides even the "smallest" of expenditures to avoid bad publicity, they may encounter a whistleblower among their immediate contacts. While this whistleblower may not be looked upon favorably by the guilty parties, he or she may still be viewed as a hero for sharing with the public something that was not being shared with them before and should have been.
There is a great deal of risk involved when you stand up for what you know is right. You may lose your job, your reputation, and the respect of people you worked with and knew for years; you may even struggle with finding a new job.
However, ethics is never an easy or definable thing, and personal ethics will make you choose between not reporting what you see and seeing people swindle others and reporting what you see and taking chances with what could happen to you. If you do choose to report what you see, be prepared to face the repercussions of this decision and always report to the correct authorities before you tell news stations. (The authorities may just want to keep things mum until they have conducted their own investigation, and then you may be permitted to tell the public.)
Consider the example of leaders such as Katharine Hamilton; ethics must be a top priority in the workplace.