Published on December 12th, 2014 by Alan L. Sklover
“A Tale of Two Employees: One an Accomplice, One a Whistleblower.”
Almost every business and organization these days feels intense pressure to do more with less, and to reach lofty goals with meager resources. Sooner or later, that impossible burden usually falls upon the shoulders of employees.
Whether that means bending rules, cutting corners or breaking laws, it quite often leads to telling fibs, pushing stories, or practicing deception. Sometimes, it even leads to outright dishonesty.
For employees, the pressure to “just get it done” often portends an approaching “fork in the road”: one way to participate, the other way to resist, in either direction, at you own personal peril.
That choice is a proverbial choice: You can “go along to get along,” that is, be an accomplice. Or you can be a “stick in the mud,” that is, standing up for what you know is “right.” It is not an easy decision to make, not at all. But even not making a decision is a decision, in and of itself.
On Monday, December 8, 2014 67-year-old Daniel Bonventre was sentenced to 10 years in prison for being the Director of Operations for swindler Bernard Madoff. He was also ordered by the judge to repay $155 billion. (That is not a typo.) That prison sentence may well become a life sentence.
On the other hand, 56-year-old Bill Lloyd, a former agent for MassMutual Financial Group, was recently awarded $400,000 by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (“S.E.C.”) for exposing his employer, MassMutual’s, fraud upon its policyholders. Mr. Lloyd did not immediately run to the S.E.C. to file a complaint, but first did all he could to correct the issue internally. While he says that he felt the “discomfort” of his colleagues treating him “like a leper,” Mr. Lloyd is now entirely “comfortable” with the final outcome.
Some believe our society now has more problems than ever with dishonesty and lack of integrity. However, facts suggest that the many new laws, regulations – and most importantly, attitudes – show less tolerance for large companies, in particular, taking advantage of the public.
One thing is for sure: there are more “whistleblower” laws and protections than ever before. The S.E.C. has established a Whistleblower Office, and has so far given out $16 million in whistleblower awards. That is a substantial inducement to “do the right thing!”
Whistleblowing is not without its own risks. But if done carefully and smartly, it is increasingly a rewarding experience.
At least that is how Bill Lloyd sees it, and Daniel Bonventre wishes he did, too.
© 2014 Alan L. Sklover All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Prohibited.