A long time ago there was a mouse living comfortably in the land of cheese. He was employed by a big multinational. The mouse was hard working and valued integrity, loyalty and respect most. The mouse was a real stand-up mouse, a mouse prepared to go the extra mile.
The mouse was consistently trying to maintain the integrity of his company, an important aspect of his job and his character. To his shock, he became aware of a serious wrong doing. This wrong doing was so far reaching, it was sure to lead to imprisonment and/or severe monetary penalties. This was a key part of the mouse’s obligatory compliance training, which included fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering.
What should the mouse do?
The mouse remembered that the company had a hotline for situations like these. He could either email or call a person of trust about the information he uncovered. This information was valuable to the mouse, except the mouse was still reluctant and scared to use the hotline. He was scared he could face repercussions:
- What if he lost the job he loved?
- What if he was discriminated against?
- What if he was made a public example of because his information brought the company into disrepute?
To the mouse’s relief, he found a non-retaliation policy on the company’s website. This stated that if the hotline was used in good faith there would be no consequences as a result of the mouse sharing the information via the hotline. It was not clear as to why this was hidden within the company’s sustainability policy: the mouse believed strongly that a non-retaliation policy should be a stand-alone policy.
The mouse still felt reluctant to voice the serious wrong doing at the company. The reason was simple: the mouse wanted examples. He wanted to know what had happened to previous whistleblowers:
- How many had there been since the inception of the hotline?
- How many who had used the hotline were still employed at the company?
- What were their current positions within the company?
- Had they experienced any blowback because of their actions?
This information would aid the mouse in his decision making process.
Was the mouse correct in not feeling 100% sure in sharing the information?
The mouse was a level-headed mouse. He started doing research on similar cases within other companies. He read everything he could find published about whistleblowers. He questioned people he deemed knowledgeable about such situations. He queried his own thoughts, data, analysis and processes. He did everything he could possibly do to be 100% sure the knowledge he possessed was correct.
The mouse initially decided to confide in a senior member of staff who was proven not to be involved in the wrong doing. The mouse thought this would make him feel safer and more comfortable in speaking up about this situation. The mouse deemed this safety in numbers important as it gave him a sense of security in his job, his position and as a whistleblower. But he kept on thinking:
Shouldn’t he report this to an external party via the company’s hotline? Someone who can investigate objectively, not being protective of either party?
However, this conflicted with his strong sense of loyalty to his company; and once again, the mouse was stuck.
The mouse started thinking about ethics and the policies and procedures his company had highlighted as areas where they wanted to stimulate their company culture. As far as the mouse was aware, his company tried to be a positive environment for business and individual growth. This knowledge of his company made him decide to contact the hotline. He knew he was doing it in good faith and he knew what the company wanted in these situations. He hoped that the company had a culture in dealing with whistleblowing reports in an ethical manner.