A whistleblower is a person, often an employee, who reveals information about activity within a private or public organization that is deemed illegal, immoral, illicit, unsafe or fraudulent. Whistleblowers can use a variety of internal or external channels to communicate information or allegations. Over 83 percent of whistleblowers report internally to a supervisor, human resources, compliance, or a neutral third party within the company, hoping that the company will address and correct the issues. A whistleblower can also bring allegations to light by communicating with external entities, such as the media, government, or law enforcement. Whistleblowing can occur in either the private sector or the public sector.
Retaliation is a real risk for whistleblowers, who often pay a heavy price for blowing the whistle. The most common form of retaliation is abrupt termination of employment. However, several other actions may also be considered retaliatory, including extreme increases in workloads, having hours cut drastically, preventing task completion, or bullying. Laws in many countries attempt to protect whistleblowers, and to regulate the whistleblowing activities. These laws tend to adopt different approaches to public and private sector whistleblowing.
– Definition from wikipedia.org
Sometime this fall, St. Clair will have a system in place to accommodate its own whistleblowers.
The college’s Board of Governors gave second reading to a proposed new policy and procedure concerning whistleblowers at its June 27th meeting.
Those processes will be implemented when the Board gives the documents a third reading (and approval) in the fall.
The policy’s preamble asserts:
St. Clair College is committed to accountable and transparent operations. Whether involved in research, teaching or the governance and administration of the college, all members of the college community are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent with the college's stated values regarding integrity, respect, transparency, and ethical conduct. In serving the interest of the public, the college shall provide for the disclosure of wrongdoing (whistleblowing) in order to maintain and enhance public confidence in the college, its brand and reputation, and the integrity of its employees ...
... The college strives to maintain high standards of integrity and accountability in conducting business and maintaining sound management of its resources as it continually strives for transparency throughout its operations. The purpose of this policy is to provide for the disclosure of complaints and concerns relating to such issues as questionable accounting, internal controls or auditing processes, non-compliance with the college's guiding principles and codes of conduct, non-compliance with ministry directives, and unethical or illegal behaviour; and to prohibit retaliation against any college community member who, in good faith, makes a disclosure under this policy.
College community members are often in the best position to observe unethical misconduct or abuse of public trust because of their proximity to day-to-day operations. The college relies on these individuals to report such activities so that it may take prompt correction action.
It is the “procedure” document that lays out how the policy will be carried out in a practical manner.
Basically, an employee (or presumably a student too) can table a concern/complaint about an allegedly illegal/improper behaviour by a college official with any senior manager, and/or directly bring such a matter to the attention of the school’s President or Chair of the Board of Governors. (If presented to a manager, such an issue would end up in the lap of the President or Chair anyway, under the procedure.)
The President and/or Chair would then either investigate the matter – or, more likely, call upon an independent, external third-party (usually a lawyer hired by the college) to examine the situation. If the potential for criminality if identified, law enforcement officials may be called into the process too.
Throughout the process, the confidentiality of the original whistleblower will be protected to the greatest degree possible. If the identity of the whistleblower cannot be protected or somehow becomes known, the policy also ensures that no workplace reprisals can be carried out against the individual.
Once the policy and procedure are approved by the Board, they will be available on the college’s intranet (https://intranet.stclaircollege.ca/pandp/).
MORE BOARD OF GOVERNORS MEETING STORIES:
• Under-enrolled programs suspended, and a few new ones launched: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/low-enrolment-leads-first-year-suspensions-some-programs
• College prepares for change to provincial funding formula: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/colleges-prepares-new-provincial-funding-formula
• Items of interest from the President’s Monthly Report: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/board-updated-president