How to Blow the Whistle Effectively


The posted values of most companies include a statement regarding integrity. This focus on integrity affirms that all employees and managers need to behave ethically in regard to company operations. This includes following all laws and regulations that apply to the company and its industry. Some companies fail to comply with these laws or regulations. Employees who are aware of noncompliance sometimes report the company -- commonly known as “blowing the whistle.” To blow the whistle effectively, an employee can take specific steps.

Document activities. Once you learn about illegal or noncompliant activities, create a logbook. Write down each activity that supports your concern about the legality of or noncompliance with company activities. Record the date and time, the people involved and the specific action performed. Keep the logbook in a secure location.

Maintain paper copies of unethical activities. As you observe and document the activities taking place, make copies of any communication that occurs. Print copies of emails. Make copies of memos and letters that provide information regarding the activities.

Keep a list of names and contact information. Identify each party involved with the activity. Consider each person who received a copy of the email, memo or letter. Include everyone who attended a meeting where this activity was discussed. Include each person’s contact information, such as address, telephone number and email address.

Talk to your supervisor. After gathering information to support your conclusion about the activity, schedule a meeting with your manager and share your findings. Ask your supervisor how to proceed.

Call the ethics hotline. Most companies hire an outside company to manage their ethics violations. These companies investigate each report to determine if the action constitutes a legal or regulatory violation. When the company determines that a violation occurred, it works with law enforcement to prosecute the violation.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you worry about the consequences of blowing the whistle, you can contact the ethics hotline anonymously. Let the ethics hotline know about the documentation you have maintained and offer to provide copies to them.
  • Do not talk to your supervisor if you believe she is involved. Instead, meet with her supervisor or contact the ethics hotline.

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