What Is HR’s Role in Whistle-Blowing?


Is HR about strategic direction and transactional efficiency? Yes, but it is much more than that — it is really about relationships. HR is the conduit of organizational relationships. The word conduit comes from the Latin “conducere”, which means, “to bring together”.

Think about it — HR’s role is to bring all aspects of business, strategy, and employee performance together into a coherent whole. The tone of all workplace relationships is set by HR. One area that HR may not be functioning as an effective conduit, however, is in its relationship with the whistle-blower.

According to the Cambridge Online dictionary a whistle-blower is defined as, “a person who tells someone in authority about something illegal that is happening, especially in a government department or a company.”

This definition is helpful, but we can expend it further. From a human resources perspective we might also include things that are deemed immoral, inappropriate, or somehow just not right. In every such eventuality HR must lead the way in protecting the organization as well as the whistle-blower.

Norm Keith, a lawyer from Fasken Martineau, expands the importance of this concept in this article in HRD Online Canada.

Click here to read Keith’s thoughts on the whistle-blower concept.

HR needs to be a leading presence that is responsible for bringing people in organizations together, while also helping to ensure that employees and the organization itself are protected from activities that could tear the organization apart. It is time for HR to make sure it has a proactive whistle-blowing policy in place.

Discussion Questions:

Review the legislation in your jurisdiction with respect to whistle-blowing laws. What have you learned from your research?

Prepare a 3-minute presentation designed to convince your VP of HR that your company needs a whistle blower policy.