Speak Up Investigations- The basic value of getting this right

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What are Speak Up Investigations

Traditionally known a Whistleblowing, ‘speak up reporters’, are individuals who exercise their rights to challenge abuses of power that betray the public trust. More recently allegations are defined within Irish Law as individuals who make disclosures evidencing a reasonable belief of illegality, gross waste, gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety.


Value of Speaking Up

Media reporting highlights public confidence in Government and Corporate institutions diminishing, including the confidence in the systems that will make institutions accountable when they engage in wrongdoing, reporters who speak up about problems they witness in the workplace are increasingly the best, and sometimes the only, mechanisms we have to prevent harm and protect the public interest. In the interest of the public and private sectors we should be embracing the value and courage of individuals who speak up, as 1) we have a problem in the workplace we were unware of 2) we need to address that problem.

One could ask the question of corporations, would we want, from a reputational perspective, to address this problem or issue before it gets to the public domain? In addition, with regards to the public sector, as a citizen of the state, I would want to know if there were issues around national security or malpractice that again needs to be addressed. 

Individuals have the option to report the matter externally, at this stage the matter falls out of the control of the organisation, is this the environment that is preferable? I would suggest not….


One of the keys to creating a workplace culture that embraces the value that employees who raise concerns can bring to an organisation is by first recognising the inaccuracy of some of the negative but pervasive perceptions about reporters. For instance, while some reporters are characterised as disloyal and self-serving, reporters typically have excellent work records and are motivated by loyalty to the institution and a commitment to doing their jobs well. The negative, and false, perceptions about what motivates reporters often prompt immediate reaction from management that views the employee who raises a concern as the actual problem to address, rather than addressing the problem identified by the employee and one which they did not identify in the first instance. Nothing can hurt an organisation more than an environment where employees are discouraged from speaking up because of management inaction or likely retaliation.


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