After reading our two posts soliciting readers to share their ethical lapses, BNETer Trish Harris wrote to “Where’s the Line?” noting that a couple scenarios dealt with the lapser not wanting to appear as a “snitch” or a “rat.” She writes: “Sometimes and in some professions, being a snitch is the ethical thing to do.”
Of course she’s right. In fact, it’s probably the ethical thing to do more often than not when we encounter clear wrongdoing on the part of our peers, as long as our own nefarious self-interest is not the true motive for our whistleblowing — and unless of course you’re in the mafia.
A while back, Trisha penned an article on the topic for the Institute of Internal Auditors (who, by the way are not snitches but rather play an important policing role within organizations). Published in the organization’s magazine, Tone at the Top, “A Call for Character and Integrity,” outlines the seven steps companies need to take in order to foster an atmosphere of “responsibility and accountability:”
Set an ethical tone at the top.
Promote strong and effective internal controls.
Establish a whistleblower policy.
Provide ethics and fraud training for staff.
Implement a confidential tips hotline.
Create a culture of doing the right thing.