It was a great privilege to have Mary Inman, who is a partner in Constantine Cannon’s London Office specialized in representing whistleblowers worldwide, as a guest lecturer within my Corporate Governance and Globalization module at the University of East London.
As I have recently mentioned in the article that focused on the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, whistleblowers play a crucial role in unveiling corporate misconducts. In particular, over the course of the last decade, whistleblowers have become of vital importance for identifying the companies who commit serious misconducts and helping the authorities in prosecuting them. They are the true heroes of our time, and the ineffectiveness of internal controls and external auditors means we must rely on them to unveil corporate malpractices.
If this is true, it is crucial not only to establish a solid legal framework to protect them against any form of retaliation or intimidation but also to establish rewarding regimes (like the ones adopted in the United States and Canada) to incentivize ethical employees to blow the whistle. This seems particularly appropriate taking into consideration that many states have abandoned their monitoring role assigning to corporations the onerous task of policing themselves, with the inherent conflict of interest that arises from that.
In her fascinating lecture (please find the related video below), Mary Inman covered such important matter with passion, offered illuminating insights into the legal framework currently in place, and suggested interesting ways to enhance it further. This lecture is extremely relevant also taking into consideration that the European Union is going to adopt a new common legal framework for the protection of whistleblowers.
The related PowerPoint presentation slides are available for download here.
2 thoughts on “Mary Inman on Whistleblower Protection Law and Reward Programs (video)”
Very interesting video and article on the European law that is coming up on whistleblower protection, so thank you for sharing!
This post, what we have seen in class and the guest lecture of Mary on the 15th of March 2019 made me wonder how far my country, Belgium, stands in terms of whistleblower protection. Unfortunately we are not among the 10 EU countries with a national legal framework, and has some very complex issues regarding our existing protective measures (among others having to do with the fact our country has a federal, region and community level for decision-making, that have not all adopted any protective laws). A European law will therefore be a very important instrument to make whistleblower protection more uniform and effective in Belgium and other countries with similarly ineffective policies!
Although the European initiative should still be applauded, there are a few things they can learn from the US reward system for whistleblowing, which lowers the threshold for whistleblowers to come forward in an effective way. There are also a few things that are left untackled, like for example what with anonymous sources who are unmasked by the company (which is highly possible in our digital age)? Are they to be left in the cold because they did not follow the favoured procedures, even though they also protect the public interest?
Another issue I personally see with the text as it is, is the fact that the law requires whistleblowers to go through their companies’ internal channels before using external reporting channels. This poses two issues: this makes it easier for companies to identify and take actions against the whistleblower before he/she can try different channels to bring the news to the outside (the internal channels are not required to be anonymous in the proposal so far), and secondly if the internal channel proves ineffective, and the whistleblower goes to an external channel or even takes the news to the public because of the ineffectiveness of the internal complaint, how is there still any chance of anonymity for the whistleblower?