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Going Public: from Ethical Dissent to Whistleblowing

What if you have tried all the internal channels and they have not resulted in an acceptable resolution of the issue? Perhaps you should go public with your allegations in order to put enough pressure on the organization to make the necessary changes. This is when it becomes "whistleblowing."

Things to think about before you blow the whistle.

We provide a list of things you should consider before going public with your allegations of unethical conduct by an organization.

Make sure of your motivation. Don't be led astray by motives of pride or revenge. Instead concentrate on your duties to your organization, to society, and to yourself.

Count the cost. Be aware of the significant cost you are likely to run when you become a whistleblower.

Obtain the necessary background materials and evidence. Make sure you have the evidence to back up your claims. After you have gone public, it may be too late to do this.

Organize to protect your own interests. You will be taking a significant risk by whistleblowing. Make sure you are ready to protect yourself.

Choose the right avenue for your disclosure. The media may be the first alternative you think of. They may not always be the best.

Make your disclosure in the right spirit. If you become identified as a "disgruntled former employee" you will have a much harder time making your case.

Whistleblowers are an extremely valuable resource. They are in a key position to bring wrongdoing to the public’s attention. They possess important technical skills and knowledge that make them aware of possible wrongdoing. For obvious reasons, only employees Hughes Microelectronics, and only those specifically in the Environmental Testing Area, could recognize that faulty testing procedures were occurring.

And your ethical dissent or whistleblowing can make a difference. In the end, 27% of dissenters who kept their complaints inside the company, and 44% of whistleblowers who went outside of the company thought their organization changed as a result of their disclosure [14].

Laws have been written to help whistleblowers, and there are support groups you can contact. But, no matter how many laws or support groups there are, the path of a whistleblower is a long and hard one. It may seem like the entire world is against you. If you are going to blow the whistle, please be sure to carefully prepare. In the end it is up to you to do the right thing.