Every whistle blowing program I have seen has cracks, fissures, and ethical crevices.
When I started my business career thirty seven years ago, whistle blowing programs simply did not exist. If you had first hand witnessed conduct that was not ethical or rose to an illegal act, the normal course was talk to your boss and or contact a human resources representative.
In almost every single case the standard response back to an individual reporting an ethical incident was “go back to work, we’ll handle this internally, or it’s not our department’s problem.”
Employee hotlines or whistle blowing procedures were barely audible or visible.
While some natural evolution has taken place in the corporate world, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of wrongdoing and ethical misdeeds are buried in the closest cemetery.
Some of the crown jewels of corporate fraud shined brightly at Volkswagen and Wells Fargo the past few years severely damaging their reputations.
A new example is unfolding in front of our eyes involving the U.S. company CenturyLink that provides internet, phone, and television services nationwide.
According to the lawsuit recently filed, former CenturyLink employee Heidi Heiser worked from her home as a customer service and sales representative between August 2015 and October 2016.
Heiser in the lawsuit alleges she was wrongfully terminated shortly after telling CEO Glen Post on a company message board about customers being bilked. She said unauthorized charges add up to “many millions” from customers over the past two years.
She attempted to discuss her concerns with three different managers in her chain of command. Sadly and predictably, Heiser was told to stay positive and not discuss the matter further.
When any employee cannot report wrongdoing and have that taken seriously without retaliation, our working cultures are ruptured beyond repair. In a more perfect world, this is the theory and basis behind employee hotlines/whistle blowing service programs.
When an ex-employee like Heidi Heiser asks why customers are being billed for things they did not request, it incumbent that our business leaders immediately and truthfully provide answers.
Failure to do is unethical, dishonest, and criminal.
The purpose of an effective whistle blowing program is to provide an honest system that provides fairness, accountability, and compliance for all employees.
CenturyLink’s has miserably failed and threatened a $34 billion merger with Level 3 Communications. They can do better and it is time to clean house.
My friends please remember this: respect, consideration, and courtesy matter a lot. Treat others fairly, decently, and equally.
Build your moral compasses carefully and always monitor them daily.
You know the battle cry: do your best each day. No one can ask more or less from any of us.
All the best/blessings, Mark