It is highly likely that the U.S. Senate will designate July 30 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” again this year, something it has done since 2013. Why July 30? Because on July 30, 1778, the members of the Continental Congress unanimously passed what could be considered the first whistleblower legislation in the U.S., stating:
Resolved, That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge” (Library of Congress).
The 2015 resolution encouraged federal agencies to recognize the day by:
- Informing employees, contractors working on behalf of United States taxpayers, and members of the public about the legal rights of citizens of the United States to “blow the whistle” by honest and good faith reporting of misconduct, fraud, misdemeanors, or other crimes to the appropriate authorities; and
- Acknowledging the contributions of whistleblowers to combating waste, fraud, abuse, and violations of laws and regulations in the United States.
Your ethics hotline exists, in part, to encourage employees and others to report misconduct and fraud internally. It also serves as a symbol of your organization’s commitment to an ethical culture.
What better way to boost awareness of the hotline than to periodically roll out supporting communications tied into an external event—such as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day? Some suggestions:
- Use your internal website, internal social media tools if you have them, company newsletter, wall posters, or other platforms to highlight the intent and language in the senate resolution—and link it to the intent of your ethics hotline and language in your ethics policy.
- Ask your senators (via their local or DC offices) for some related comments to be shared internally.
- Create a little history lesson based on the 1778 resolution—and then transition to a short history of your hotline.
- Acknowledge the contributions of internal hotline reporters (whistleblowers), not by individual name (don’t violate anonymity), but by the ways in which internal reports have helped your organization curtail financial losses caused by fraud, or change a policy or practice for the better, or improve the overall ethical culture.
- Have cake on July 30! A little celebration seldom goes amiss, and offers an upbeat way to remind employees about the serious business of your ethics hotline and the reasons for its existence.
On July 30 last year, Senator Chuck Grassley (R, IA) said, “Experience shows us that silencing patriotic people that we call whistleblowers just allows wrongdoing to fester and spread. By pointing out problems, whistleblowers foster transparency and make it possible for their organizations to do better. Transparency brings accountability.” He continued, “With their words and actions, leaders have to make clear that whistleblowers are important and retaliation is not tolerated” (Wilmoth, 2015).
On July 30 this year, your organization’s leaders could send a similar message.
Ethical Advocate provides comprehensive ethics and compliance solutions, including ethics and compliance training and confidential and anonymous hotlines. Please contact us for more information.
“A Resolution Designating July 30, 2015 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day,” S. Res. 236, 114th Cong. (2015). https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-resolution/236/text
Library of Congress. Journal of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789: Thirty-four Volumes Published by the Library of Congress, 1904-1937 (Vol. 11, page 732, Thu. Jul. 30, 1778). https://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjclink.html
Wilmoth, Mary Jane. “Senators Honor Whistleblowers at First Congressional Celebration of National Whistleblower Day,” Whistleblowers Protection Blog, August 11, 2015. http://www.whistleblowersblog.org/2015/08/articles/news/senators-honor-whistleblowers-at-first-congressional-celebration-of-national-whistleblower-day/