From family-owned businesses to Fortune500 corporations to Government agencies / departments, whistle blowing is often encouraged as managers / owners attempt to establish a culture of ethics. Thus, without fear of negative repercussions, whistle blowers can anonymously submit tips, suggestions and complaints directly to some person or department that will deal with it properly. Often, every topic / area is fair game, so whistle blowing often covers everything from simple suggestions to wholesale fraud/theft, even adultery / inter-office shenanigans.
Here’s a short list of some of famous corporate and government whistle blowers over the decades, and what they did.
- Daniel Ellsberg – in 1971, he was the State Department officer that gave the “Pentagon Papers” (a not-so-glowing history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967) to the New York Times.
- Karen Silkwood – in 1974, she was a blue-collar worker who raised concerns about plutonium plant safety. Unfortunately she died under mysterious circumstances after she started investigating claims of irregularities and wrongdoing at the Kerr-McGee plant.
- Lois Jenson – went public with allegations of sexual harassment at the “North Country” coal mine where she worked. In 1988, she filed the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit in the United States.
- Jeffrey Wigand – in 1996, he appeared on the CBS news program 60 Minutes, and exposed his company’s (Brown & Williamson) practice of ‘impact boosting’ (intentionally manipulating the effect of nicotine in cigarettes).
- Roy Olofson – in 2001, he alleged fraud at telecom Global Crossing.
- Sherron Watkins – as Vice President of Corporate Development at the Enron Corporation, helped to uncover the Enron scandal (accounting irregularities) in 2001.
- Cynthia Cooper – an infamous whistleblower … she was an auditor who exposed fraudulent accounting practices at WorldCom
- Bunnatine Greenhouse – she was an Army Corps of Engineers official who criticized and helped to expose no-bid contracts received by a Haliburton company subsidiary in Iraq. She testified and identified specific instances of waste, fraud, and other abuses and irregularities by Halliburton with regard to its operations in Iraq since the Iraq War.