Listen to Mary Inman on BBC’s Business Daily Program “What Happens to Whistleblowers?”
Constantine Cannon’s own Mary Inman appeared on an episode of the Business Daily program from the BBC World Service, What Happens to Whistleblowers: How Exposing the Truth at Work Can Cost You Your Career. Listen at the Spotify link below, or on your preferred podcast platform.
Mary was joined by whistleblowers Ian Foxley and Bianca Goodson and whistleblower psychotherapist David H. Martin for a discussion moderated by the BBC’s Theo Leggett. The group discussed the toll that a decision to expose wrongdoing within an organization can take on a whistleblower’s life.
Mary underscored the importance of whistleblowers by highlighting the benefits organizations receive from encouraging whistleblowers to speak up. When organizations welcome those who dare to highlight a risk internally. t senior executives can learn about risks which could prove very costly down the line.
Mary referenced empirical data which has shown that “whistleblowers try to report internally at least three, four or five times before ever going external.” It is often the rejection and silencing whistleblowers encounter internally that leads them to make their claims public, going to the press or law enforcement. Companies that have created environments where whistleblowers are safe to speak up are able to hear concerns and address them internally. In other words, Mary noted, “companies that have internal hotlines that are ringing off the hook are healthier than companies that have silent hotlines.”
Mary also spoke about the importance of legal reforms, including those in the EU Whistleblowing Directive, which reverses the burden of proof and puts the onus on employers to establish that they did not retaliate against a whistleblower for speaking out.
Whistleblowers Ian Foxley and Bianca Goodson provided candid accounts of the difficulties they have faced in their respective whistleblower journeys. Foxley, a retired 24-year army officer who served in the British Army for 24 years, shared an account of the consequences whistleblowing had on his personal life, including threats of arrest and jail that forced him to leave the Middle Eastern country where he was working. Bianca Goodson, who has become known as one of the main whistleblowers in a series of corruption scandals in South Africa, recounted how the decision to shed light on her employer’s wrongdoing turned her life “upside down.”
Psychotherapist David Morgan, who has extensive experience working with whistleblowers, shared that it is common for whistleblowers to question their decision. Mary explained that a vital part of her work involves advising individuals of all the negative consequences that can follow from whistleblowing so that her clients can make an informed decision about whether to speak up in spite of the risks.
Blowing the whistle and seeking to hold wrongdoers to account for their actions is a noble quest, but individuals must undertake it with their eyes wide open. Each individual will want to weigh a number of factors when determining whether to be a whistleblower, including an assessment of personal concerns such as the possibility of retaliation. Being a whistleblower is taxing, and the decision to become a whistleblower should never be taken lightly. For whistleblowers, professionals including lawyers and psychotherapists can play a critical role. An experienced whistleblower attorney can answer questions, help make a decision about whether to blow the whistle, advise on the merits of a potential claim, and work with you to plan your next steps.
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