Whistleblowers, Honesty and Accountability

The Securities and Exchange Commission is stepping up its’ Whistleblower Award program. The program allows for up to 30% of the monies collected in the enforcement action to be given to the individual who tips them off to the illegal activities, such as fraud. The most recent whistleblower received $150,000.

The Commission is authorized by Congress to provide monetary awards to eligible individuals who come forward with high-quality original information that leads to a Commission enforcement action in which over $1,000,000 in sanctions is ordered. The range for awards is between 10% and 30% of the money collected.

When companies defraud other companies or their customers, they harm everyone involved. They harm their employees by asking them to engage in sin. They harm their customers or partners by creating false expectations or withholding critical information that would help their customers make better decisions. And their untrustworthy reputation can spill over to the community at large and damage the prospects of other businesses flourishing within that community. While they might create short-term profits, they nearly guarantee that they won’t be around for the long term because, over time, others will cease doing business with them. When businesses close up, this hurts the community and to the extent it is frequent, it makes it that much more difficult to attract new businesses to the community. Strong communities depend, in part, on honest businesses that can sustain themselves for the long haul.

Some don’t like the whistleblower laws. I understand. But the damage dishonest players can inflict on others is the reason the laws were created in the first place.

As Christians, our word is our bond. Let your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No”. Truth-telling in sales and marketing is the pretext to us keeping our word. Christian businesses should never over-promise. They should never exaggerate in their marketing or withhold critical information their customers need. Truthfulness should be a hallmark – a foundation – of how we do business.

If you don’t keep your word – if you exaggerate or lie – then your employees will do the same. That is a cancer that must be dealt with swiftly and decisively – first within yourself and then within your business. It won’t be easy. But it starts with you – the business owner – being 100% committed to 100% truthfulness 100% of the time. No lies. No excuses. No exceptions. People may not like what they hear and they make take great exception to what the truth is, but they will not be able to say you have lied when you practice truth-telling 100% of the time.

Bill English, CEO