Ethics and Moral Agency

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INTRODUCTION

Whistle-blowing is the revelation by prior or present employees of the organization of illicit, dissolute or dishonest acts under the governance of their employers, to persons or organizations who can distress signal (Near & Miceli 1985). Persuading employees to blow the whistle when they are conscious of their organizational misdemeanor enforces a constructive duty on whistleblowers, a duty to do well to others or to put a stop to the harm that the organization may cause to others (Vandekerckhove & Tsahuridu 2010).

In July 2005, Singapore revised her code of Corporate Governance to encourage the confession of company whistle-blowing practices and procedures. According to the European Corporate Governance Institute (2005), policy 12.7 of the Singapore code of Corporate Governance states that the Audit Committee should assess the policy and arrangements by which employees of the organization and any other persons may, in confidence, report any possible improprieties in terms of financial reporting or other matters. Whistle-blowing policy should be made known in the company’s Annual Report, and measures for bringing up such concerns should be revealed publicly as appropriate.

Tsahuridu and Vandekerckhove (2008) argued that organizations must execute internal measures to allow employees to bring up issues internally so as to secure the right to whistle-blowing. However, by executing these measures, employees are then morally obliged to blow the whistle. In this essay, we will talk about the importance of whistle-blowing, ethics and corporate governance in an organization, moral agency and responsibility as well as whistle-blowing as an internal control mechanism. Based on all these factors, we will then conclude on whether employees should have a duty to blow the whistle on unethical or illegal acts.

IMPORTANCE OF WHISTLE-BLOWING

Recent fraud cases in the public sector and non-profit organizations like National Kidney Foundation as well as suspected breaches by Singapore-listed companies such as China Sky Chemical Fibre have highlighted the issue on whistle-blowing. Many of these cases have acknowledged significant negative consequences of organizational wrongdoing for victims, such as employees, customers, and society at large. The principal professional body in Singapore, The Institute of Certified Public Accounts of Singapore (ICPAS) had alerted companies to establish a culture of ethics and governance (Channel News Asia 2012). Organizations should also emphasize and institute policies for its employees and external parties to be more observant and report any misconducts.

Modern organizations have become so complex these days that it is unlikely for outsiders to become aware of organizational actions. The society has to rely on inside information from prior or present employees of the organization. Therefore, the responsibility of whistle-blowers such as Susan Leong in the National Kidney Foundation scandal has become essential to the detection of organizational wrongdoing. Without whistle-blowers, the donors will never learn of the false declarations and misused of charity funds in the organization. Since whistle-blowers are crucial, Miceli (2008) suggests that organizations should find better procedures for supporting appropriate whistle-blowing. Moreover, the legal sphere for whistle-blowing has changed significantly over the years, especially with Singapore enforcing laws to protect the identities of whistle-blowers, employees should then have a responsibility to inform the society of any illicit or unethical acts by their organization.

ETHICS & CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Ethics is defined as being fair, and determining between right and wrong, identifying the policies and regulations that emphasize behavior between individuals and groups (Connock & Jonhns 1995). Every organization should have a code of ethics in place to ensure that employees strictly adhere to the values and beliefs...
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