Encouraging whistleblowing could mean casting the word aside


While researching for our “Witness to Wrongdoing” series on corporate whistleblowers, I searched for synonyms for the word whistleblower. Turns out its a loaded term, one that conjures up images of rats, snitches, and backstabbers.

The word traces back to the late 1880s, when police officers used whistles to alert citizens to crime or riots. Referees in sports matches were also called whistleblowers because they blew the whistle on infractions.

Whistleblower has morphed into a word that refers to someone inside an organization who has exposed wrongdoing. And that is a positive thing. But the term is also heavy with the implication the person blowing the whistle is betraying his or her organization, its culture, and fellow colleagues.

lock iconTHIS IS MEMBERS-ONLY CONTENT. To continue reading, choose one of the options below.