Over the past few years my role as CEO of WorkInConfidence has brought me into contact with quite a few whistleblowers; It’s also brought me into contact with lots of the cases and stories of whistleblowers.
Frequently on starting down the path of becoming a whistleblower people will know it is likely to be the end of their career in the organisation they are in. Sadly it is all too often the end their chosen career in the sector they are in.
A Whistleblowers Conversation
Imagine the conversation with your boss when you let them know about your decision:
Boss “How did the references on Jane Bloggs, your preferred candidate for head of Finance turn out”
“Oh we are not bothering with those – she was fantastic in interviews, just what we need and references will only be pro forma as she left her last job following a successful whistleblowing case”.
So here are 5 reasons should seriously consider being clear that “Yes applications from whistleblowers are welcome”.
- You have to be pretty committed to be a whistleblower – the journey can be a hard one – and you are probably hiring someone with a high degree of commitment rather than a passive by stander.
- If I am going to trust someone I have never met before, I think I would put whistleblowing high on the list of qualifications. Given that in the UK whistleblowers don’t gain financially, and risk a huge amount, chances are you are hiring someone who is exceptionally committed to doing the right thing.
- Don’t you want to know you have people on your team who will have the courage to tell you if they think things are not headed in the right direction? How many mistakes can be avoided if you avoid group think? Is it really in your interests or those of your organisation to surround yourself with yes people?
- Imagine the signal to your staff – “We don’t shun people who raise concerns – we hire them”. What does that say to the rest of your staff? Want to create an open honest culture – what better signal can you give.
- It’s the right thing to do. Think you are an equal opportunities employer? Think you are a courageous manager? Well start acting like one. By all means fail to select someone because they cannot do the job, but not because they had the courage to speak up elsewhere.
Given the assumptions people sometimes make, unless it’s blindingly obvious from past conduct of your organisation, maybe it’s even time to make it explicitly clear “Whistleblowers welcome here”.