Whistleblowers deserve greater protection

Why do whistleblowers get such a raw deal? They come forward, and from a
belief in honesty, they reveal wrongdoing. And yet, on so many occasions they
suffer penalties much worse than the perpetrators of the original crime. They
lose their jobs, they suffer depression, family life is placed under strain and
their careers are placed in serious jeopardy.

There is not, therefore, much to commend the act of whistleblowing. What
could possibly draw someone to get involved? This is a particular problem when
pressure is being placed on certain professions to come forward more often to
disclose wrongdoing. It’s one thing to stand back and say accountants should
come forward, but the question should be asked: why don’t they?

The answer is the risks are too high. Many will conclude, on finding
illegitmate activity, that their best option is to forget what they saw and move
on to another job as quickly as possible. The fall-out from actually reporting
it to the authorities is, for many, just too awful to contemplate.

If regulators are going to call on the profession to come forward they should
push for changes in the law that will offer more protection. But that would mean
asking what good legislation would be. At the moment there is a concern that bad
legislation is being copied from one country to another.

That is never going to resolve the issues. Lives should not be ruined as a
result of confronting wrongdoing, and we need to do more ensure that is the

Volcano prompts a rethink for business

The news over the last few days has been full of stories about people
stranded around the world because of the volcanic ash cloud causing flight
cancellations. Reports have focused on the estimates of how much the airlines
are losing in revenues as a result. The wider effect on commerce has just
started to emerge, with businessmen either stranded or failing to start their
journeys to business critical events.

It’s a reminder of how much business has come to take international air
travel for granted and how blithely we book flights to meet colleagues on the
other side of the world.

And yet there are alternatives to this. There are other ways to communicate.
In the wake of this event, international business will once again have to assess
the risks they face, put in place contingency plans. More importantly, the
planet has perhaps reminded business that there may be others ways of doing
things other than jumping on a plane.

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