Whistle Blowing

Topics: Ethics, Morality, Immanuel Kant Pages: 7 (2313 words) Published: August 26, 2013
Question 1: The Singapore Code of CG advocates the disclosure of company whistle-blowing practices and procedures. Should employees have a duty to blow the whistle on unethical or illegal acts?

Before we proceed into the essay question, we need to ask ourselves what we understand by the term “Whistleblowing”. There is no globally accepted definition for whistle-blowing although several attempts have been made to define it. Ralph Nader was one of the first few in modern history to use the term “whistle-blowing” and in his book, it was defined that whistleblowing is an act of a man or woman who, believing that public interest overrides the interest of the organization he serves, blows the whistle that the organization is in corrupt, illegal, fraudulent or harmful activity (Nader, Petkas & Blackwell 1972). Perhaps, the most common used explanation of whistleblowing was given by Miceli and Near (1985) as “the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers, to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action”

From the two definitions, we can agree that the term “Whistleblowing” is an act of an employee (either current or former) who believed that he is morally responsible to the society by reporting the wrongdoings or practices of an organization which is corrupt, illegal, fraudulent or harmful within the organization (internal) or outside the organization (external). It is good to note that despite the question stated unethical or illegal, we should be focusing activities which are corrupt, illegal, fraudulent or harmful rather than activities which may be unethical but legal. Few of the examples are employing child labor in underdeveloped countries and companies involved in activities which could lead environmental degradation.

In accordance to the second review of Singapore Code of Corporate Governance issued in May 2012 which stated “the existence of a whistle-blowing policy should be disclosed in the company's Annual Report, and procedures for raising such concerns should be publicly disclosed as appropriate”, many companies have adopted similar whistle-blowing policies (Monetary Authority of Singapore 2013). These policies serve to promote a more ethical workplace by providing whistleblower a channel and procedures for reporting unethical or corrupt practices without fear of retaliation. The identity of the whistleblower is kept confidentially to prevent any discrimination, retaliation or harassment to the whistleblower. Singapore Press Holdings has even extended the whistle blowing policy beyond employees to outside parties like suppliers, customers, contractors and other stakeholders. (Singapore Press Holdings 2012).

In the attempt to answer the question of whether employees have a duty to blow the whistle on unethical or illegal acts, we need to understand the concept of moral agency in order to assess the responsibilities of employees and the morality of whistleblowing. An agent in ethical theory is a rational being who is not an agent for anyone or anything else that acts and is subjected to ethical rules (De Geroge 1992). An agent is capable of accessing the moral situation or dilemma and his/her obligation and deciding how they should act and carry out the action. They are made morally responsible and accountable for their actions. In the case of whistleblowing, the employee will be morally responsible and accountable for his whistleblowing or omission (failing to blow the whistle despite the wrongdoing of the organization).

We will look into three normative theories to analyze the morality of whistle-blowing. Normative theories are segregated into 2 main categories, consequential and non-consequential. Non-consequential normative theory like Kantianism accesses the morality of a decision independent of their consequences. Consequential normative theories such as Utilitarianism and...
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