No good deed goes unpunished. This phrase came to mind after reading the results of a 2011 National Business Ethics Survey titled “Retaliation: When Whistleblowers Become Victims.” The report contains some shocking statistics:
- 45% of US workers observed wrongdoing;
- 65% of those who witnessed wrongdoing reported it;
- 22% of those who reported wrongdoing said they experienced retaliation (an increase of 46% from 2009); and
- 46% of those who observed wrongdoing but chose not to report it, cited fear of retaliation as the reason.
Employees who “blow the whistle” or report wrongdoing should be lauded, not vilified. A study conducted by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) estimates that fraud costs a typical company about 5% of its revenues and that whistle-blowing is the single most common method of fraud detection. Another study shows that “18.3% of the corporate fraud cases in large US companies between 1996 and 2004 were detected and brought forward by employees.” In Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, an analysis by KPMG found that 25% of fraud cases were brought forward by employees and that anonymous tipping was the primary source of detection.
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