Wiki Leaks and Whistleblowers: Why Private Information Goes Public | Business
Ask an average person to name a whistleblower and they’re likely to think of ‘private citizens’ like Erin Brokovich, Karen Silkwood, and Jeffrey Wigand or journalists like Carl Berstein and Bob Woodward. These red, white and blue American whistleblowers have been portrayed in Academy Award-winning movies as admirable people who had the courage to reveal wrongdoing in workplaces and government agencies in a spirit of justice.
But are there other motivations that drive people to release sensitive documents and information that bring down companies and governments? I believe the answer is yes. Fame is certainly a motivator...and so is vengeance. Employers in the private and public sectors that stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the link between employee engagement and corporate security are likely to find themselves the victims of leaks.
‘Company loyalty’ is a phrase that is quickly passing out of the average worker’s vocabulary. Left in the dark by management and constantly fearful of losing their job, today’s disengaged workers don't really feel connected to the company that pays them. Instead, they see themselves as lone wolves. The commonplace corporate culture that marginalizes employees by making them feel invisible and unheard may be a fertile breeding ground for disgruntled workers eager to retaliate by funneling secrets to outlets like Julian Assange’s Wiki Leaks.
According to a survey from Weber Shandwick and the Economist Intelligence Unit, more 67% of global executives fear that their companies’ reputations are at risk of being compromised by leaked information and employee sabotage. But more than reputation is at stake. Disgruntled employees pose a threat to productivity, profitability, and the very existence of a business.
A1990 CIA study revealed that moles (those who work for an enemy nation, but whose loyalty ostensibly lies with their own nation) often decide to steal secrets because of feelings of emotional distress and dissatisfaction towards their own government and workplace. Further, the study’s authors felt that if co-workers and bosses could be educated to intervene with a troubled employee early on, damaging espionage might be prevented.