The act of whistle-blowing can create material benefits for organisations and society at large, but often at great cost to those who choose to report unethical or illegal behaviour. This white paper shares findings from a recent study investigating accounts of
whistle-blowers as well as the views of those who frequently engage with whistle-blowers. To situate our empirical findings, we report briefly on academic literature as a series of reflections focusing on why whistle-blowers elect to report, where they report, how they are viewed, and the difficulties and consequences they experience when speaking up. We find that the decision to blow the whistle is only taken after extensive deliberation, normally including discussions with senior members of employer organisations. Despite the inevitable loss of promised confidentiality or anonymity, whistle-blowers in this study chose to approach external organisations to flag their concerns. When describing their organisational experiences before and after blowing the whistle, many key internal and external actors who form an integral part of what we term “the whistle-blowing ecosystem”
were identified. We map these in a “whistle-blowing ecosystem”, and also identify and discuss four organisational themes that
emerged during the study. Moreover, as we move through our findings, we reflect on the academic literature across key themes.
We conclude by providing recommendations for organisations seeking to promote ethical conduct.
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