by Protect Patron Michael Woodford
Michael Woodford, former President and CEO of Olympus Corporation exposed a £1.1bn scandal and left in fear for his life after unearthing a web of corruption within the company just weeks after being appointed as chief executive in 2011. His actions led to two senior Olympus board members being sentenced to three years in prison. In 2012, he reached a settlement after suing Olympus and now advises on corporate governance and campaigns to protect whistleblowers.
- Ensure that you obtain:
- good independent advice and there is nowhere better than Protect!
- qualified legal opinion and your lawyer has a complete dossier of all the evidence you have assembled.
- Take your time to be clear on as many facts as you can as you need to be detailed and specific throughout the process of raising concerns. If you can report internally, consider your options or seek advice.
- Consider contacting your regulator and reporting wrongdoing, and consider doing likewise in other jurisdictions. This action will ensure you are in line with statutory whistleblower protection (Public Interest Disclosure Act – PIDA).
- If appropriate, find a journalist(s) whom you can trust. It is a basic rule that, if requested, a journalist will protect their source. Furthermore, sometimes the investigative ability of media organisations can compare with, and in some circumstances be superior, to law-enforcement or regulatory agencies. Respected media outlets understandably won’t publish or broadcast anything without some evidence, they are a vital measure that can ensure wrongdoing is eventually exposed.
- Remain focused and determined – your family will be put under extreme emotional strain and this is painful to witness, but you must always remember if you know of wrongdoing and then don’t report it, you become complicit and put yourself and your family at risk.
- Don’t lose sight of your own moral compass - you will receive a lot of opinions but ultimately trust your own judgement as in the end most of us know what is right and wrong.
- Maintain your health and wellbeing. It can be stressful.
- Don’t expect too much of others – becoming a whistleblower is not like Noah’s Ark where you go around in twos. It inevitably means you will be on your own, and you need to prepare yourself psychologically for a disturbing sense of isolation.
- Don’t be surprised by close colleagues you considered friends distancing themselves from you and when they do, don’t let this affect your resolve. If you think you are right and have the information then you are doing nothing wrong – quite the reverse.
- Don’t give up!