Encouraging Internal Whistle Blowing in Organizations by Lilanthi Ravishankar
How do organizations create a culture that encourages employees to ask questions and show courage in confronting unethical or illegal practices? Whistle blowers are typically seen as a “snitch” or someone who betrays a sacred trust for personal gain. They may encounter difficulties when they appeal internally or go public with information that is damaging to their company.
From the days of “organization man” loyalty to the company was the ruling norm. In the 60s companies had “at will” policies, meaning they could fire an employee for no reason. Employees were expect to be loyal to their company regardless of any circumstance. This meant problems were covered up instead of being resolved. A perfect example is the asbestos manufacturing where is was known to be linked to lung disease as early as 1924. However this information was keep under wraps by company officials. It wasn’t until 1971 that the first lawsuit against asbestos manufacturing was initiated. Another example is the case against Firestone Tire in 1972. The Director of Development informed top management the 500 tire was inferior and the belt-edge could separate at high speeds. It wasn’t until after 41 deaths and hundreds of injuries that the company was “outed” and the company spent millions in injury lawsuits. A similar situation occurred for Firestone in 2000 where after 200 deaths and 700 serious injuries they company had to replace 3.5 million tires.
The decision of top management in these cases not only cause severe safety issues to the public but also effected the company as far as doing business with car manufacturers. So, what would have been different if the Director made his findings about the unsafe tires public back in 1972? He may have appeared to go against... [continues]
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