Essay on Whistleblowing

1769 Words8 Pages
Sharon Watkins earned her 15 minutes of fame the honest way, as the Enron employee who blew the lid off of then CEO Ken Lay's debauchery. But for every celebrated whistleblower, there are hundreds who remain in the shadows. And for good Samaritans who do tell their tale, the price they pay can be exorbitant.
Whistleblowers perform in many careers and are found at all levels of an organization: scientists and secretaries, lawyers and paralegals, managers and staff, security personnel and computer specialists, etc. They are as varied in age, ethnic background, education, profession, sex, and income as the population at large.
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The whistleblower him or herself must be carefully scrutinized. What are the personal and the professional reputations of the whistleblower? What is the motive driving the whistleblower? Is it to benefit the client or the organization, or is it a need for attention or revenge? Is the whistleblower's cause seen as legitimate and significant by trustworthy colleagues and friends? Is the whistleblower aware of the potential consequences of blowing the whistle and still willing to accept responsibility for actions taken?
Unfortunately, during most of this century many people equated whistleblowers with tattle tales. For instance, until the early 1980s, legal indices often listed the law of whistleblowing under the word "snitch" or "informant." During the Nixon era, much of that negative attitude changed. With the advent of Watergate, the public began to recognize the service whistleblowers were providing to taxpayers at great risk to themselves.
Further, whistleblowing impacts not just the whistleblower but also their family and friends. Although whistleblowers have many different backgrounds, skills,

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