When Women Blow the Whistle

When Women Blow the Whistle by Barbara D. Janusz, Winter 2013, Herizons
Researchers and regulators have taken an interest in whistle-blowers, too, and have asked: What is it that makes a person more likely to blow the whistle-is it a sense of injustice, or is it the possibility of being rewarded for doing the right thing? The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is betting on the latter. It recently implemented provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and authorized large bounty payouts to whistle-blowers for securities laws violations. However, a collaborative 2009 study conducted by law professors Yuval Feldman, of Bar-Ilan University’s faculty of law, and Orly Lobel, of the University of San Diego school of law, suggest that they needn’t have bothered. … Interestingly, Feldman and Lobel concluded, “often, offering monetary rewards to whistle-blowers will lead to less, rather than more, reporting of illegality.” The reasons? First, the researchers found that, while men in the survey said they would be more motivated to report wrongdoing by receiving a monetary reward, women were more inclined to be motivated by intrinsic factors such as duty, and by anti-retaliation protection. Perhaps the most interesting finding was that “women were far more likely than men to blow the whistle.” …

Under Canadian Law there are some regulatory schemes-provincial occupational health and safety legislation and environmental protection laws, for example-to protect whistle-blowers. Federally, the Criminal Code affords whistle-blowers the broadest safeguards from reprisals. … SLAPP lawsuits are attempts by corporations to duck accountability by countersuing their critics, claiming the critics are harming their reputation.

“There is a cozy relationship between industry and government regulators that operates in secrecy.” – Dr. Michelle Bill-Edwards

Similar criticism has been levelled against the oil and gas industry and its Alberta regulators – the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) [previously EUB, soon to be AER] and Alberta Environment [name changed twice since, now Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development] – against whom scientist Jessica Ernst has been waging a battle for nearly a decade. Ironically, Ernst, who had been contracted by Encana as a biologist to conduct environmental impact assessments, has now experienced first-hand the devastating ecological impacts of oil and gas development.

“If people are told more clearly what whistle-blowers go through, the public would say no, this has to end.” Like Ernst, Brill-Edwards, Olivierie and others, Gualtieri has spoken critically and openly about government corruption in the hope that the public will demand and come to expect greater accountability frmo government and corporate officials. She believes the ordeals of the whistle-blower magnify the most pressing questions of the 21st century: What is it that we value? Why is power being abused? Why are so many people compliant?

Women, in ever greater numbers, are becoming integrated in all professions and are assuming greater positions of power–as premiers, CEOs, judges and senior public administrators. Perhaps the greatest challenge still lies ahead of us, as the new generation of female leaders is confronted with a quandary: Should women exercise power for the greater good or simply for their own self-interest and the narrow interests of the institutions that employ them?

Source Herizons Winter 2013

[Refer also to:  Braid: Alberta’s a tough place to be a whistleblower

A toxic practice, a poisonous relationship: what’s the connection between water for fracking and SNC-Lavalin’s Chair Gwyn Morgan, past CEO of Encana? ]

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