Case 2 Question 1
Yes, what Holmes has done is abusing the whistle-blowing policy in order to protect him from being laid off. I define abusing something as overusing something to one’s purpose that is not of the original designed functions. The protective cover that whistle-blowing policy provides is to ensure that employees who report the misdeeds in the company according to the policy will not suffer from other forms of retaliation as far as possible. The protection policy is very clearly defined as against actions of revenge. And in this case the layoffs name list has been made before the Art blow the whistle when he sensed he will be one of those who face redundancy. But apparently normal redundancy is not a form of revenge, not to mention that the list is determined before Art’s blowing the whistle.
No matter bases on what incentive that Art blows the whistle, he should be encouraged to blow the whistle because there is such a policy to urge for that behavior. Speaking form whistle blowing, the head of the purchasing department who has arranged a kickback scheme to earn rebates into his pocket is exposed for his unethical behavior and has made the restoration of loses of the company and resigned for it, the company will benefit for outing a department head who can seriously jeopardizing the company’ interest by such unethical actions, this is the direct positive result because of the whistle blowing despite of whatever motive Art has conceived when he shows the 1 year old proof. What matters is not about the decision of blowing the whistle but his motive to protect him from being laid off by confusing the layoffs with whistle blowing. Speaking from the abusing the protective article for whistle blowers for uses other than avoiding actions of retaliations, Art’s motive and his behavior is unethical. There are two totally different things here, one is blowing the whistle which should be encouraged, and the other is abusing the policy trying to avoid being sacked which should be discouraged and Art has planned to achieve both of them. These two things are mixed together because of the timing Art has chosen to present the documents to expose his immediate boss’s unethical behaviors that happened more than one year ago. So Holmes’s motive matters not because he has evidence of genuine wrongdoing and reveal it in according with the policy, in contrast, it should be said as doing good for the company, but his motive matters because his abusing the protective cover provided by the whistle blowing policy.
The problems in this case are more about the implementation than formulation of the whistle blowing policy. Company policies are designed to uphold the principles and value of the corporate culture. Like the whistle blowing policy in this situation, it is enacted to highlight the ethical culture of the company and to fight against the any form of unethical or illegal conduct. We can not make a perfect policy that can fix all practical problems.
Firstly relative value and principles being express well is the function of a policy. In this case the policy is sufficient enough to state the position that the company has chosen in protecting the whistle blowers. And such value and principles need not be too detailed as they are abstract and general to express the viewpoint that can be applied to most case accordingly that may happen. The generalization has left enough allowance for practical changes and decisions.
Secondly policies can not cover every possible scenario with the specially-made solution. There are just too many situations with different people and conflict of interests that the policy may come with. So it is more useful to focus on the implementation other than the formulation of the policy.
Thirdly a balanced decision could be reached through analysis and result comparing. This is the work of the management that is about the implementation of policies although it could be eased by enacting a better policy.
There are some amendments that can be done to improve the whistle blowing policy to reduce the chance of the recurrence of the similar abuse.
Encourage an early whistle blowing. Set a time limit on rewarding the whistle blowing, say 3 three month, within 1 months after the happening of the unethical or illegal events whistle blowing of the evens will be rewarded (rewarding methods will be depend on the seriousness of the events). Encouraging whistle blowing especially in time whistle blowing is important to minimize the loss that the company may suffer. In regard with the case, Art uses the 1 year old proof to expose his immediate boss’s history misdeed if of very little use for the company even it is done according to the policy because the company know the situation too late to do anything constructive.
State and ban the whistle policy abusing behaviors. Clearly define the whistle policy abusing behavior including using the whistle blowing safe cover to avoid the normal company personnel adjustment like lay offs and position changes because such decisions from the human resource department are based on the consideration of the need of the company’s manpower to keep the company running well and could not be compromised.
Even in this whistle blowing policy abuse case, the policy is still generalizing positive result for the company than negatives. There may be some difficulties caused in the recent lay offs plan as whether to fire the whistle blower who is in the list of elimination. But his whistle blowing behavior has retrieved the company a lot of money and let the company know the true nature of the head of the purchasing department. Even he is finally sustained which is just a change of names in the list of lay offs it is understandable because he has make a good contribution to earn a chance to survive in the company. Also the managers hence would become more ethical because of the fear of being turn in.
There are a lot of advantages in the whistle blowing policy.
It’s not surprised learn that that the whistle blowing policy will normally bring or save the company a great deal of economic benefits with very low cost by the later correction to the exposed ethical or legal issues. In many cases sacking the involved employees especially the senior managers timely will save the training investment to them. There are a lot indirect economic benefits like this kind. It’s also well known that sometimes unethical transactions do bring the company much of money like the insiders’ trading in the banking system and removing such transactions by whistle blowing will bring direct loses to the company, but in the long run people still believe that ethical business can enjoy more economic benefits as the company with unethical culture will fall at any time in the future.
Ethical culture building
It’s out of question that an effective whistle blowing channel will contribute greatly in building up the ethical culture. No systems can work well without a monitoring function and whistle blowing is the important monitoring part of the ethical culture system. By continues correcting the wrongdoings it keeps the corporate culture advancing in the designed direction.
Increase the degree of employees’ satisfaction
Employees’ emotion and morality is greatly connected to the fairness of the company and it’s obviously that whistle blowing policy contributes greatly to the fairness of the corporate environment. By cleaning up the unethical factors whistle blowing can increase the degree of employees’ satisfaction.
Although whistle blowing is not welcomed and proactively accepted by most of people and sometimes whistle blowers may even be considered as betrayers when they seek external whistle blowing. But on the whole the abundant advantages of whistle blowing outweigh the disadvantages.
Because of the lack of prescripts about the whistle blowing policy abusing and the possible negative effect that the termination of Art may cause, and sustaining him will encourage the policies abusing behaviors, it is better not terminate him by the company. If I were Dryden, I will expose the fact to the company and hold a corporate wide vote to decide whether to insist the company’s original plan to sack him. But this will not be a precedent, if the same situations happen again, the company will not surrender to the abusing behavior. I make such a decision because what Art uses to intimidate the company is the misunderstanding of this case, if other employees know the situation and have the right to judge and decide the result they will choose the side of the company. Even they do not choose the company’s side, there will not be any further negative effect because the public has known the truth and will not expect anther chance to avoid being laid off by collecting proof of unethical behaviors.
If Holmes were terminated of the previously planned reductions the whistle policy will not be violated. As stated many times above firing Ark is the decision of the human resource department in consideration to the manpower’s need of the company, this sacking is not a kind of retaliation to the whistle blowing behavior. So strictly speaking the policy works well and is not violated at any degree.
Once the termination is carried out the trust of policy will certainly be eroded and the degree of erosion will depend on the later truth communication and the reaction of the employees. Even with the explanation from the company the other employees will consider it to be an excuse to cover the intentional revenge to the whistle blowers. But as time goes people will gradually know the truth especially after long time thinking, logic will bring the justice back that if the company want to revenge the whistle blower why he will be sacked just after his whistle blowing? Is it wiser to sack him next round of redundancy? The only explanation is that the company has upheld its policy and plan at the same time. Truth is in everyone’s heart, and it will be clearer from time to time. But if the company surrenders its own policy just because of the worrying that employees may not know the truth, the company will be considered as not firm enough to insist its policy and similarly it would not highlight its value in difficult situations.
1 Http:// www.defenseethics.org
2 Karl Marx.1867.Peoples Publishing House 1958.Capital:839
3 World Security Institute’s Center for Defense Information
4 Amnesty International: Arms Trade Treaty
5 Silverstone, Paul H. U.S. Warships of World War II Doubleday & Company (1968):152
6 Http:// www.gdbiw.com/
7 Hunt, Geoffrey 2000. Whistleblowing, Accountability & Ethical Accounting, in. Clinical Risk 6(3): 115-16.