Whistleblowing is a highly controversial and widely discussed topic in today’s society due to many high profile cases including the circumstances surrounding the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion and what was documented in the movie The Insider about the tobacco industry. Ethically, the decision for someone to whistleblow is a tremendous one. The person needs to weigh many factors and take many things into consideration before making that step. This paper will use the movie The Insider, Ethical Theory and Business and material collected from the internet to (1) discuss definitions and conditions of whistleblowing; what motivates whistleblowers; ethical and other considerations including risks and typical results of whistleblowing cases.
Definitions and conditions of whistleblowing
“A whistleblower is an individual that believes that his or her organization is engaged in or willingly permits unethical, unlawful or otherwise reprehensible activities. Whistleblowers bring attention to the objectionable activity and attempt to effect change. Whistleblowers generally report these actions internally and may ultimately resort to reporting these activities to external authorities or interested parties.”
In the essay “Whistleblowing and Professional Responsibility” published in Ethical Theory and Business (1995), Bok spells out the conditions needed for whistleblowing. They are: “it singles out specific persons or groups as responsible for threats to the public interest, the accusation of the whislteblower, moreover concerns a present or an imminent threat and a concrete risk must be at issue rather than a vague foreboding or a somber prediction” (p. 330).
Running Head: Ethical Conduct Ethical Conduct (Authors Name) (Institution Name) Code of Ethical Conduct: Introduction In the present day environments, activities related to business organizations are under more scrutiny then ever before by the government regulatory authorities, clients, shareholders and the general public. Therefore, the ethical conduct of business managers and their employees ...
In The Insider, Dr. Jeffrey Wignand meets both the definition and the necessary conditions of whistleblowing detailed above. Dr. Wignand who, after being fired from his position of Corporate Vice President in charge of Research and Development at Brown and Williamson, which was the third largest tobacco manufacturer, finds himself in the position of deciding whether he will become a whistleblower.
The seven CEO’s of the tobacco companies, which Wignand called The Seven Dwarfs, testified before Government committees and denied any ill affects of or manipulation of the levels of nicotine. Dr. Wignand in his position knew that they were lying. In one of the first conversations between Dr. Wignand and the Sixty Minutes producer, Lowell Bergman, Bergman said:” They are afraid of you” and Dr. Wignand replied: “They should be.” Prior to this, their being able to deny the nicotine’s effect was the only way they had been able to escape all prior personal injury cases.