A cautionary guide for those who need to speak out

Whistleblowing means to uncover and share illegal or unethical behavior in your organization. Notable whistleblowers include Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Reality Winner.

Any organization could be the subject of whistleblowing. It may be a public or private organization—either for-profit or non-profit—, a community group, or a multinational. It’s important to note too that blowing the whistle does not necessarily mean alerting the public or the whole world.

Internal whistleblowing is often seen as more legitimate, although organizations are more likely to bow to outside, public pressure more than an internal investigation. But unless the ethics violation is of public interest, it might be difficult for a whistleblower to find an audience outside of their organization.

What do you risk from your whistleblowing?

While it might seem obvious to you that illegal violations and ethical misconduct in your organization must stop, the bigger picture could be complicated and require careful consideration.

Are you willing to go public with your allegations and possibly lose your job or career? Are you willing to be exiled, even? Is part of your goal to preserve the integrity of your organization, or are you ready to see it dismantled?

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