Whistle blowers sound the alarm from within the very organization in which they work, aiming to spotlight neglect or abuses that threaten the public interest. The stakes in whistleblowing are high, whistle blowers pose a threat to those whom they denounce and their own careers are at risk.
Sissela Bok acknowledges that blowing the whistle is often justified but that in doing so the individual creates dissent, conflict and breaches the loyalty of their employer. Whistleblowers often find themselves in the difficult situation of having to choose between conforming and sticking their necks out. She mentions that the more repressive the authority they challenge, the greater the personal risk they take in speaking out.
Sissela Bok gives a great example of the whistleblower who hopes to stop the game; but since he/she is neither a referee nor coach, and since he/she blows the whistle on his own team, the act is seen as a violation of loyalty. She believes that in being employed with an organization, we assume certain obligations towards colleagues and clients. We may even ave to subscribe to a loyalty of oath or a promise of confidentiality. Loyalty to colleagues and to clients creates conflict against loyalty to the public interest, to those who may be injured unless the exposure is made. 0k also argues that not only is whistleblowing a violation of loyalty but that leadership is opposed since the individual is not only a colleague but also a subordinate. She states that the element of accusation arouses the strongest reactions on the part of leadership. Sissela Bok also suggests that if the facts warrant whistleblowing, we each have an individual moral choice and we should think bout how to minimize the breach of loyalty.
We must be sure that there is a problem in the first place and weigh its injustice before deciding whether or not to reveal it. She argues that one sworn to silence is unquestionably under stronger obligations because of the oath they have taken. Biased accusations raise serious ethical concerns and in most cases they are fears of fairness to the persons accused of wrongdoing. She suggests that we must consider whether the public is entitled to the message in the first place or if it oversteps on personal and private matters one has no right to invade.
Whistleblowers must be aware of the possibility of bias in their message, or inflated expectations regarding the effect their message will have. Bok suggests that for this reason, the whistleblower owes it to all involved to make sure the they have sought as much objective advice regarding their moral choice (betrayal to employer or betrayal to the public) as they can, and that they are aware Of the arguments for and against as detailed and coherently structured as possible.
No Summary – Robert Lamer According to Robert Lamer an employee has been viewed as an agent who acts on behalf of the employer, and as possessing duties of loyalty and onfidentiality, he believes that putting a stop to illegal or unethical company activities may be the highest type of loyalty an employee can display. He states that whistleblowing, at least at first glance, seems in violation of these duties and it is scarcely surprising that in many instances employers and fellow employees argue that it is an act of disloyalty and hence morally wrong.
Lamer disagrees with the idea that whistleblowing violates loyalty and that it embodies a mistaken conception of what constitutes employee loyalty. Lamer believes that it ignores the fact that ‘The great majority of corporate histleblowers consider themselves to be very loyal employees who try to use “direct voice” (internal whistleblowing), but are rebuffed and punished for this, and then use “indirect voice” (external whistleblowing).
They believe initially that they are behaving in a loyal manner, helping their employers by calling top management’s attention to practices that could eventually get the firm in trouble” Lamer argues that loyalty may not always be reciprocated but that loyalty to one’s employer is appropriate and consequently, a prima facie duty to protect the employer’s interests.
Lamer suggests that by ignoring the ossibility that blowing the whistle may demonstrate greater loyalty than not blowing the whistle, it fails to do justice to the many instances where loyalty to someone constrains us to act in defiance of what that person believes to be in his/her best interests. He suggests that a more accurate definition of being loyal to someone is that loyalty involves acting in accordance with what one has good reason to believe to be in that person’s best interests. Secondly, loyalty requires that, whenever possible, in trying to resolve a problem we deal directly with the person to whom we are loyal.
He suggests that initially e would not involve a third party but try to work things out directly with the one involved in the immoral actions and provide opportunities to resolve and understand their perspective. This implies that, whenever possible, a loyal employee blows the whistle internally and allows the employer the opportunity to demonstrate to the employee, contrary to first appearances, no wrongdoing had occurred, or, if there is a genuine moral problem the opportunity to resolve it.
Lamer also suggests that there may also be cases that may arise where acting in a person’s best interests requires that one acts ndependently and perhaps even against the wishes of the person to whom one is loyal. He believes that a loyal friend is not only someone who sticks by you in times of trouble, but someone who tries to help you to avoid trouble. In his conclusion he states that ‘the solution lies in realizing that to whistle blow for reasons of morality is to act in one’s employer’s best interests and involves, therefore, no disloyalty’.
My Viewpoint After reading the two arguments I found Robert Lamer to be more convincing. Whistleblowing does not violate company loyalty and its in the best interest of the company to stop illegal and unethical activities. In most cases of whistleblowing, those accused of immoral acts are already aware of their wrongdoing and if an employee speaks up they have the opportunity to resolve the issues and problems.
There is also the risk that the organization will retaliate against the employee and try to hide their unethical behavior, but unless those affected by this behavior are made aware, corrective action may never occur. Eventually other moral employees will be unable to bear the burden that their organization’s activities are unethical and hazardous to the public, and eventually those activities will surface and the organization will suffer in the long run.