Webinar: Whistleblowing… Defending the Accuser and the Accused

Transcript for Whistleblowing… Defending the Accuser and the Accused

Giovanni Gallo: Hi, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. I’m Gio Gallo. We got Nick Gallo here and Roy Snell hosting our webinar on “Whistleblowing: Defending the Accuser and the Accused.” We’re really excited to have Charlie Middleton and Mary Inman here and excited that you’re joining us. It’s an honor for you to share some of your day so that we can share some of our insights with you. Nick, do you wanna walk us through some logistics and then we’ll jump into the content, huh?

Nick Gallo: Yeah. Thank you. Thanks for that intro. Welcome, everybody. So a couple of housekeeping items. We’ll be sending around the recordings to anybody who wants it in the next day or so, so as soon as this is done, we’ll edit that up and send that out. And separately, for those who are interested in SHRM Credits, we have CEUs on the way and we’ll be sending those out as well. Also, we’re going to try to turn this conversation into an infographic and that always works best when we have a lot of questions from the attendees. So you all live and work in organizations that this topic is an issue, whether it’s sort of above the surface or below the surface. So the more questions you can pour into the chat, the more fulsome this discussion can be and I think the better takeaways we’ll be able to land on. So with that, I would love to introduce our guests. We have Roy Snell, Charlie Middleton, and Mary Inman. How’s everyone doing today?

Mary Inman: Great.

Roy Snell: Very good.

Nick: So before we jump into the topic, which is, you know, it’s a very interesting topic, I don’t think it gets enough attention. Whistleblowers are blackballed in many industries. There are cases where the accused get roasted before they get that sort of benefit of due process. But before we get into, kind of, picking apart this issue, I’d love to just kind of go around the horn and hear everyone’s background, you know, just a little introduction, how you got into this game, and what your experience with this whole whistleblower topic has been. Mary, do you want to get us started?

Mary: Yeah. I’m happy to start. So I fell into this completely by good fortune. I was recruited by a head hunter to join a whistleblower firm, and I did not know what it meant to be a whistleblower lawyer. And for the past 23 years, I have specialized in representing whistleblowers under the various United States whistleblower reward programs, which started out under the Federal False Claims Act but as we all know has expanded with the idea that the FTC, the CFTC, the IRS, and even now the U.S. Department of Transportation all pay whistleblowers rewards in order to encourage them to bring inside information that will help them with an investigation or trigger an enforcement action.

So I’ve done that for 23 years and 3 years ago, I was asked to move to London to start our international whistleblower practice because as you know, as multinational and as global economies prosper, whistleblowers now are all over the world. And the FTC, in fact, tracks their numbers. And the number one country for a number of years supplying tips to the FTC came out of the United Kingdom, not surprisingly, with London and the financial services sector.

Nick: Interesting. Very interesting. How about you, Charlie? Why don’t you give us a little intro?

Charlie Middleton: Sure. So my background is being an international corporate tax lawyer. I worked at a big law firm. I had senior officer roles at GE, Walmart, Caterpillar, and a Koch Brother company called Oxbow. I sort of refer to myself as an accidental whistleblower. I never intended to be a whistleblower. I never wanted to be a whistleblower. As a matter of fact, being a corporate tax planner was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed doing it. It wasn’t until later that I sort of recognized that there’s a little bit of inherent dishonesty in the practice of international tax law, where you’re trying to make companies look like they are earning money in tax havens, which they’re really earning in high tax places. So I was presented with a couple of situations where I just really thought that my employer was doing something wrong. I raised it internally, and I was surprised that the response was, first, “Thank you so much for bringing this issue to our attention,” followed by, “We’ve discovered that we are completely in compliance with the law,” followed by, “Oh, we just need to investigate you for this trumped-up bullshit,” and, “You’re fired.”

So having done that twice, I found that being the head of tax at another public company was not likely to happen. So I sort of accidentally became a whistleblower advocate. And my opinion is that the most powerful thing that a company can do and the most powerful thing the industry can do is to end the blackballing of whistleblowers. I think that any company that says that they have integrity, that integrity is important to them, the very first question should be, “Have you ever hired a whistleblower? Have you ever fired a whistleblower?” And if they have fired a whistleblower and they’ve never hired one, then all their integrity talk is nonsense. Right? And I think it’s a compelling argument, and I’d like to make it to as many people as possible and get feedback, right? I mean, tell me why I’m wrong. So that’s my agenda.

Nick: Love it. Roy?

Roy: I started out in this field in ’95 as a compliance officer at the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation and Hospital, and then dealt with a lot of reports of wrongdoing in that role as a compliance officer. And therefore, I have a perspective about one of the other solutions to all this is to prevent, find, and fix ethical and regulatory problems before people have to become a whistleblower. Like, back up the truck all the way to get it right in the first place. And then I co-founded the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and the Healthcare Compliance Association at about the same time and then was CEO for 18 years.

And so I spent a lot of time with people who received the reports of wrongdoing. And as CEO or manager, supervisor for 40 years, I’ve seen a few people falsely accused of wrongdoing, and before things could get sorted out, their lives got messed up pretty bad. So I kind of see it from both sides or seen it in my career from both sides of people who report issues that get treated poorly and that’s wrong. And after watching all this go on for all these years, I’m thinking we need to spend a little bit more time talking about the folks who get accused falsely and are harmed as much as some whistleblowers are harmed.

Nick: Yeah, and I think as you start to dive into this topic, I mean, there are horror stories on each side of the fence. I mean, Charlie probably, kind of, has a couple of horror stories right on the tip of his tongue. I just read a book about a guy who got…I think you may have recommended the book to me, it’s…

Roy: I did.

Nick: Yeah. And he was in a 5-year litigation with the Department of Justice over a false accusation that was made from a former employee, and they spent $25 million on it and so forth. So, you know…

Roy: Defending himself, $25 million.

Nick: Yeah. It’s crazy. So anyways, I think there’s a lot to, kind of, unpack here and there’s a lot of different perspectives that we need to kind of incorporate if we’re going to have a true picture of this whistleblower issue as leaders in our organizations and so forth. So, you know, maybe as a first question to get going, I’d love to hear from Mary and Charlie, and Roy, if you can chime in, you know, what are the typical perspectives and concerns of whistleblowers? What are those things at the core of them that prompt this action that sometimes can be counter to what their best interests are?

Charlie: I would say there’s a tension, right? The typical whistleblower reports internally. The typical whistleblower is not, I think, at first, worried about their own career, but they quickly kind of cotton on that, you know, the companies don’t come out and say, “Don’t blow the whistle.” What they say is, “Do blow the whistle.” But what you get is feedback, “Charlie, that’s not really a good issue,” or whatever. So I think that the people want to do the right thing and they don’t realize that what they’re doing is very dangerous to their career until they start going down that road. Most people recognize pretty quickly, this is a third rail, you know, if you’re in the healthcare industry and you’re upcoding everybody, let’s not talk about that. If you talk about that, then people get upset.

Most people are smart enough to just shut up, but then you’ve got, you know, these, sort of, outliers, these whistleblowers who are not smart enough to shut up. I mean, or, you know, they have tons of integrity. We’ll say that. I mean, I don’t personally think that whistleblowing is in the interest of the whistleblower. I think that they should listen to society’s clues and they should shut up for the good of their children. For the good of society, they absolutely need to speak up.

Nick: Right. Yeah. It’s an interesting thing. It’s an interesting dichotomy, or it’s an interesting tension that I think creates a lot of dissonance inside folks that have that high level of conscientiousness. Anything to add to that, Mary?

Mary: Well, I totally agree with you, Charlie. I think there are a couple of points to raise. The first is that you describe yourself, Charlie, as an accidental whistleblower. I think a lot of my clients would describe themselves similarly. They would say, “I was just doing my job and I only realized that I was a whistleblower when I started to become treated that way.” If you’re head of audit and you’re showing results that are going to be very damaging to the next quarterly earnings report and all of a sudden people above you want to squelch that information and you still keep wanting to do your job, it’s usually that kind of situation that creates a…So I would say that not all whistleblowers are conscious whistleblowers. I would also say that the companies have almost what I would describe an autoimmune response to whistleblowers. And that I would argue that whistleblowers are the good bacteria that companies need. So they shouldn’t have this autoimmune response, but often they do.

And finally, Charlie, to your point, it’s crazy. If you were looking at this, why would you be a whistleblower? Of course, not everyone starts out wanting to be a whistleblower, but the other piece is that’s where financial incentives come in. That’s why the United States program exists is to dangle a carrot in front of someone to say, “If you’re going to take this career suicidal role of being a whistleblower, we need to do something to cushion the blow. We need to do something to get you off the fence when you’re saying, “It’s in the public interest, I should do it. But what about my children? I’m the sole breadwinner in my family.” That is part of what…we try and tip the balance by putting that reward out there. So those are my thoughts.

Nick: Yeah. And then with respect to that reward, do you have any insights into, like, from what I read, I may be wrong, but there’s a pretty low proportion of whistleblowers that actually get those payouts. So what kind of, like, more…like, on the one hand, do those monetary incentives create some kind of moral hazard? And then what about on the other hand, when someone is kind of stepping out onto that ice, because to your point, it’s a career suicide thing, and then what do they do with that sort of low payout ratio?

Charlie: Well, on the tax side…sorry, Mary. On the tax side, they pay out 3% of the time and it takes more than 10 years to pay.

Nick: That’s kind of my point.

Charlie: So if you’re doing it for the money, you’re an idiot. Don’t do it for the money. I wanted to come back to Mary’s comment earlier because I think that it’s important to look at things from the perspective of the company as well. We’re not talking about a bunch of evil geniuses running these evil empires. These are good people, right? They go to church, they don’t kick the dog, right? They don’t say, “Oh, you’re a whistleblower who’s trying to blow the whistle on this horrible fraud. We’re going to fire you.” What they say is, “You’re not a good fit.” They’re not internalizing that what they’re doing is wrong, right? They think what they’re doing is right. And I think that it makes sense to understand that and to work with that.

Nick: Yeah. What we’re you going to say, Roy?

Roy: You’re reading my mind. I just want to make a couple of suggestions. When I’m listening to Mary and Charlie, for those that are listening that can impact their culture and their organization either through the compliance program or whatever, I think the more education that the employees can receive about all of this, the better. That there are these potential problems for the accused and the accuser and we’re not going to have that here and we’re going to build up more awareness of the facts and what really happens and be really honest as opposed for people to be surprised. Because I think when they’re surprised, when they start the whistleblowing or whatever, people are frustrated and angry and all that as opposed to, “Oh, here’s another thing we’ve got to deal with,” just like a production problem, right? You know, we should try and build a culture of this is normal and okay and we’re not going to treat either the accused or the accuser badly here. That’s a soft idea. I don’t know how much help that would be, but one thing I know…

Nick: I think it could do something…sorry to interrupt you. It could do something, especially if it’s buttressed with some of the stuff that Charlie’s talking about. Having people internally that have been whistleblowers have been promoted to a position of some kind of authority or something to show, “Hey, here’s a tangible proof that we’re not blackballing guys. We’re putting our money where our mouth is. We want to protect both pieces and we want to encourage people speaking up.”

Roy: Well, let me give you a real quick example of that. I was just going to share, when I was CEO, I had two employees break the rule of law. Now, they were relatively minor, but they came running into my office to tell me, “I’ve screwed up. I’ve talked to our attorney and here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna disclose it and fix it.” And I took both of them, the incidents were separated by months, if not years, to a meeting of the whole staff and said, I’m gonna make up a name, “Ingrid here, or Joe, had a problem and they immediately addressed it. They came in, disclosed it, they fixed the problem, and this is what I’m talking about. This is what we need. We want to attack our problems, not let this rot and build tension and negative experiences.”

And just one last point. One of the things the U.S. Sentencing Commission did in their last round of changes to the sentencing guidelines is they said, “We want you to use incentives. And one of the incentives can be to parade around people, reward people who bring forward problems, whether they caused them or not, and fixed them.” Now, Charlie and Mary are right. A lot of these go real negative that, you know, there’s no chance to praise people. The accuser is attacked and that’s wrong. But if you want to build the right culture, I think you’ve got to grab the people who do these sorts of things, and unfortunately, you’re going to have to have small examples.

You’re not going to be able to bring in the big ones that are multimillion-dollar Department of Justice investigation things, but then I think you can get back to the core problem, which is people don’t understand what Charlie and Mary understand. The typical, average employee, I would encourage everyone who can do this to do as much education on this as they can and then praise the folks that…I shared an idea with you, Nick, about doing this, like, have a quarterly award of the person who found a problem. The employee of the month, the employee of the quarter, and the people submit suggestions if people found a problem and fixed it, no matter how small and…Sorry, man, I got a little worked up there.

Nick: No, I mean, look, your culture is what you celebrate and what you reject. So if you’re celebrating whistleblowers, you’re going to start to drive that right behavior, and you’re gonna start to tap in to the natural, sort of, ownership tendencies we all have. We all want to be part of something. And, you know, when whistleblowers are speaking up, it’s not…again, to Charlie and Mary’s point, it’s not to line their pockets, it’s because they see something wrong and they usually genuinely want to help. I have a question for all of you guys. This came in from the attendees. So do you guys think that all whistleblowers are angry and frustrated when they, you know, raise their hand or they speak up?

Mary: So what I wanted to point out is I think that’s a great question and I think what I like to revert to is, sort of, some empirical data. And so what I like to say to compliance staff is that if you are listening, your whistleblowers will give you not one, not two, but usually three or four attempts to let you correct it internally before they ever go externally. So to the point about, are they angry? They aren’t angry on the first or second time. By the time they get to me, they’re very angry. It’s because they’ve been ignored. So the FTC data says that over 80% of the whistleblowers who come to the FTC have reported internally first. Which is to this question of are people being wrongfully accused? I think most of the time whistleblowers will give you that opportunity and they don’t want to engage in that life-changing behavior. They want to do what they’re trained to do and continue in the employment that they have, and they want you to work with them. So I guess my answer to that question would be they are not angry when they start out, they’re angry when you repeatedly don’t listen to them.

Charlie: I agree with that. One of the ways that whistleblowers are discredited is, “Disgruntled former employee. This person is disgruntled. You can’t believe what they say,” right? It’s an attack. And there’s very good reasons why the whistleblowers are attacked. I mean, you know, a good offense is defense, right? So if somebody’s saying things…you know, the lawyers, I think, especially think this way, right? “Let’s discredit this person,” and this is not lawyer bashing. I’m a lawyer. But it’s a good tactic. If you’re trying to defend the organization, attack them.

Mary: Charlie, I’d just like to add, it’s also a great tactic to do that to chill future whistleblowers, right? It’s not just to chill that one whistleblower and silence them, it’s to send the signal that this is what happens to whistleblowers.

Charlie: Correct.

Nick: Right.

Charlie: The second thing which I wanted to pick up, the empirical facts are critical and I would love if there was just a common understanding of the facts, and there’s not enough study out there, but the ACFE Report to the Nations and it evaluates occupational fraud. And it says that whistleblowers reveal more fraud than internal audit, external audit, compliance, management. Whistleblowers is “the” way that fraud and corruption comes to light. It blows away everything else. So you’ve got these people who this is what they do for a living, full time, is look for fraud. They’re less successful than the guys who aren’t paid for it. The fraud just comes across their desk, right? If a company wants to find fraud, just don’t treat the people who tell you about it badly. Right? There’s a great quote, which is something like, “Don’t look for a needle in a haystack, look in the sewing kit.”

Mary: I totally agree. And we often talk about whistleblower being the CEO’s best friend, they are obviously the canaries in the coal mine. And if you’re not listening, then you are overtaken by noxious fumes. But they’re also forward indicators of risk for you. So I always like to talk to businesspeople about whistleblowers, not under the term whistleblower, but speak in business-speak and saying they are forward indicators of risk. What’s interesting, and I know that, Roy, I believe, and you, Nick, both have maybe had this…I think you’ve had this gentleman speak at a couple of your conferences, but there’s been some great research done by Kyle Welch and Professor Stubben out of the Universities of Utah and George Washington University.

And their research has basically shown having taken all of NAVEX Global’s data on their internal whistleblower compliance and reporting hotlines is that companies that have hotlines that are actively used and seem sort of counter-intuitive are actually the healthiest and most profitable companies. They have fewer lawsuits, and the lawsuits they have are settled more quickly and they have far fewer federal investigations for the intuitive reason that we’re all talking about here, which is that if you create an environment where people feel safe to report, then you can get at these issues and correct them before they metastasize into something bigger.

Nick: So that’s a phenomenal point and I think it’s corroborated by evidence in other areas. So I just finished “The Fearless Organization” by Edmondson, and she talks about a study that she did or that she was a part of where they were looking at all these different medical teams across the country, and they were saying which are good teams in which are bad teams in terms of those who are willing to speak up and so forth. And, you know, again, intuitively, she assumed that, “Okay, well, these best teams are going to have fewer problems.” And she found the exact opposite. So these better teams that had better communication that had, you know, sort of, better cultures, more psychological safety, whatever, they had way more problems.

These problems were talked about more and they were able to bring them up and that counterintuitive thing, to your point, is what makes a whistleblower a CEO’s best friend. Because what you’re really tapping into here, you know, everyone’s talking about the Internet of Things and having all these sorts of machine sensors out everywhere and these things are going to give us indications of a reactor overheating or something, right? Or even the Coke machine being out of pop, right? But a more intelligent sensor is a human. And if you can enact a culture that can activate the humans as a sensor, then you’re gonna see, to Charlie’s point, a ton more items that aren’t going to get caught by the natural audit functions and the natural, sort of, you know, scrubbers that go through our organizations to try to find these bad things.

Charlie: I’d like to hear Roy talk about his concern because, you know, I think that whistleblowers will be more credible if we recognize that some people who claim the mantle whistleblower don’t deserve it. Right? They’re not telling the truth. They’re crazy. They’re unhappy. Right. You know, I think that, you know, we think about the Tyler Shultzes of the world who are trying to tell the truth about something that people need to know, but for every Tyler Shultz, there’s a good handful of people who are just unhappy and if you ask them what’s wrong, they begin with, you know, how they were bullied in high school or something. Right? I mean, if you can’t distinctly say what the problem is in 10 words, you know, it ain’t. So, I mean, I think that we gotta figure out how to recognize properly that whistleblowers are so powerful, but take that thorn out of the people who are, sort of, besmirching our good name.

Nick: Right.

Roy: You know, it’s funny, Charlie, I was just making notes to try and answer your question before you asked it. So we’re having some kind of speaking…

Nick: A real mind-meld going on here. Yeah.

Roy: First of all, I wanted to just say, when I was CEO, I begged people, you know, “Bring me your problems. Bring me the problems.” I loved our external auditors. Our CFO was a little less pleased because he was the one being nicked up a little bit with a little problem here and there. And I tried to tell him, “Look, man, we get to pay these people to find our problems when they’re small and they won’t get big and ruin our careers. So we should welcome these people in.” However, to Charlie’s point or question, people who report problems are not well informed, not every employee is well informed about what’s about to happen. First of all, it takes a long time to investigate these things, in some cases. And I’ll give you a really funny example. I asked a DOJ attorney who was the most famous attorney in the healthcare industry at the time, probably still is, for finding fraud.

So we got compliance officers waking up at 2:00 in the morning in fear of being considered part of the problem because they haven’t finished an investigation. You guys take 2, 3, 4, 10 years, and it’s okay. We take five weeks to follow up on the complaint, and the person who complains often thinks these people are dragging their feet. Second problem is we can’t share with the people who complain, especially if they’re anonymous, by the way, is an update. Now, I have a couple of cases where I was able to get back to the person every couple of weeks, that we’re still on it, it’s going to take a while. It took me a year-and-a-half just to figure out the total dollar amount of the problem. I had to tell her, you know, “It’s going to be a while.”

And then to Charlie’s point even further, leadership, if people would just look at it from leadership’s perspective, they get a lot of complaints that aren’t true. And sometimes people are doing it for evil purposes. They’re complaining about someone they don’t like, or they’re complaining to try and protect themselves because, in this day and age, I know a lot of whistleblowers have been fired, but a lot of whistleblowers are being absolutely treated with kid gloves by a lot of companies. And then people don’t understand the rule of law completely. Sometimes they over define it or they’re not sure exactly about what happens. So there’s a lot of mistakes. There’s just a swirling pot of confusion and frustration. And it builds more frustration because everybody’s talking about here. So again, I just want to get back to, we just got to be more open about talking about these problems and the challenges the leadership has, the challenge that the accused have, and the challenges the accuser has, and then do all that education. And the CEO says, “None of this negative crap is happening to my company. This is a solution to our problems.”

Nick: Yeah. Well, that brings up another issue, right? Because sometimes, like, you know, who owns the rule of law? Is it the sort of C-suite or is it the compliance department? And sometimes that’s in conflict, right? You can have a compliance department that’s full of people that want to protect those whistleblowers and want to stamp out the issues and so forth, but that can be in conflict with the PR implications of it or the stock hit implications of it. And so those things can get stamped out. Mary and Charlie, what kind of advice would you give someone who’s in a compliance department on what they could do to help the whistleblower problem, whether it’s a problem or not yet, on a real-time basis, you know, where the rubber meets the road, where the boots are on the ground, when a report comes in, what kind of things would you think are best practices that we should start incorporating into the way that we do our work to help kind of negate some of these negative externalities that pop out of this process?

Mary: So there’s a number of things that I think can be done, and I hate to be, because I’m in San Francisco at the moment, talking about tech solutions, but when I’m hearing Charlie talk about anonymous reporting and sort of the challenges of, “How do I communicate to someone who’s sounded the alarm? They get frustrated while they sit there and wait.” We understand that there are things you can divulge in and that you can’t divulge because there’s an internal investigation going on, but the more you can communicate with that whistleblower, the better. The more they feel like they aren’t just sitting there stewing and then thinking about calling my number, which is what you don’t want them to do. So there’s really interesting products out there now that allow for two-way anonymous reporting in the hotlines. There’s actually a whistleblower himself, a former whistleblower, who has created a whistleblower product that’s called Whispli.

And it was because it used to…his name is Sylvain Mansotte, and he’s a French national who was working in Australia. And when he was faced with calling the hotline, he was the only French-accented person. So if he called the hotline, it was clear that it was going to be him. So we’ve evolved a long way from there and I think gone are the days when you would just drop a white envelope at your manager’s desk and have it all be anonymous. I think there’s now ways where you can communicate, two-way communication, but still preserve this anonymity. So I think communication is key, but trust is key and it all goes back to this issue of do they trust you enough? And it’s not just the tone at the top. I love to steal a line from Tom Hardin, who is tipper X, a famous gentleman accused of and convicted of insider trading, “It’s the mood at the middle, not just the tone at the top.”

And so if you’ve created an environment where you aren’t sending the signal that whistleblowers…if you blow the whistle, we’re going to come down hard on you. It’s gotta be the opposite. To Roy’s part, that we reward you for that, we call you out. And my view is it should be part of your performance review. This should be a plus factor in your performance column. And in fact, when I give a lot of speeches, a lot of people talk to me about, “Why can’t I give bonuses or rewards in the way that the U.S. system does? I see the value, but why can’t we be bonus based on this?” I think those are the signals that you need to send to people that when I use that hotline…because all you have to do is one time get it wrong. I feel like the stakes are so high for people in this environment. And I feel sorry for compliance people because you screw it up one time, no one will ever want to use the system again. Word will get out. You do it well, and more and more people will come to it and you will then get those canaries singing to you in the coal mine.

Charlie: I think the biggest problem is the compliance industry has a credibility problem. If I’m a whistleblower…well, I am a whistleblower. If I’m advising someone who’s thinking about whistleblowing, this is my advice, don’t do it if you can’t trust them. They talk the talk, they don’t walk the walk. Sharing…

Roy: I don’t think that’s very true. I mean, I’ve been with these people for, I don’t know, 25 years, and I’ve met with thousands of compliance professionals. I’m afraid I’m going to have to object to the idea that, you know, the perception is whatever you think it is. But the reality is these are some really hard-working, good people.

Charlie: I don’t disagree that they’re well-meaning people. What I’m saying is that the consequences of whistleblowing are bad. Sherron Watkins was Enron whistleblower and she speaks about missing, you know, her former profession. She’s “Time” Person of the Year, and she can’t get a job. Come on. Right? You know, Tyler Watkins forms his own company after being the Theranos whistleblower. Whistleblower after whistleblower leaves the industry, right? So saying integrity is important to us is lovely. Right? Prove it, right? Show me the person who has benefited by having the courage to tell the truth, right? The Uber whistleblower…

Nick: Tyler is a CEO now, so…Just kidding.

Roy: Nick, I just want to share something that Charlie and Mary triggered here.

Nick: Yeah, sure.

Roy: Here’s the trick at getting at problems earlier before they boil over to real super frustration. Most people will tell you where the problems are if you ask them, but you kinda got to do it in the right way. If you just put a hotline number out there and don’t do anything else, you won’t get as many. Let me give you an example. Here’s something I would suggest to everybody listening, is go out and do some education in some departments. And I don’t really care what kind of compliance education you do, but cover some of this stuff would be great, and then two days later, go back and wander the halls of that department and grab people, one-on-one, look them in the eye and say, “How did we do?” And, you know, that’s really not what you’re after, but you say, “Well, how was the class? Could we make it more interesting? Did we cover the right stuff?”

And then after you chat for a little bit and get everybody comfortable, you look them in the eye again and you say, “Have you seen any problems that we said shouldn’t be happening here that are? Is anybody breaking the rule of law or doing anything unethical?” Most people will not lie to you. And most problems are known by five or six people. So if you do this enough, you will get to the problem really early. And matter of fact, not only did I do this, I grabbed somebody in the hallway who worked on my compliance team. I’d just joined the University of Wisconsin so I hadn’t been around that long. And I said, “Are you aware of any problems around here that have gone unresolved?”

And she just casually mentioned something that turned out to be the biggest problem we found while I was there and we got it resolved and it took a while. So I wanna encourage people to go out, do education, go back a couple days later while people are stewing, right, you know, you’re up there and you’re the big compliance guy and you said, “This doesn’t happen. And this shouldn’t happen. And we do this. We’re a good company. And we’re ethical,” the guys who know about a problem are sitting there going, “If only you knew what I knew.” Well, you ask them in the hallway, I think you’re going to get good stuff. I did.

Nick: Yeah, I think the message that’s sent from the top, whether that’s the compliance office or it’s, sort of, the C-suite, whatever, that message is if you’re following it up with actions, to your point, you can many times get a lot more out of folks. One of the, kind of, open-ended questions that was recommended in that book was, I think it was in the context of a manufacturing facility that was trying to get their safety down, but the question was, “Was everything over the last week as safe as you would have liked it?” And that kind of open-ended question that can be repurposed and say, you know, “Was everything over the last week as ethical as you would have wanted it, or in compliance with our code?” or whatever, that’s a way to kind of get some conversations going.

We got some great questions, so I’d like to kind of incorporate some of those because I think they’re pertinent. So here’s one I’m just gonna kind of read it. “I think whistleblowing is too often assumed to be a problem of big organizations, but I was at a very small one that I observed where it worked exactly as Charlie said where, you know, it wasn’t a good fit and it kind of landed in some trumped-up charges.” So the question is, “Have any of you observed differences in how these cases are handled based on the size of the organization? Do you see any correlation between the treatment of whistleblowers and organization size or industry?”

Charlie: I’ll tell you something I’ve noticed. If an ethical problem is cheap, we’re on it. If an ethical problem is going to cost the company a bunch of revenue and we’re not going to make earnings, oh, my goodness, you know, you’re out.

Nick: Gotcha. So you would kind of posit it’s more about the nature of the issue and the, sort of, financial and maybe external implication of that issue that determines how it’s ultimately treated.

Charlie: Yeah. I mean, if I’m an Enron employee and I notified them that somebody is making inappropriate racist statements, I think Enron would be all over it. If they discover that one of their clients was stealing from them, I think they’d be all over it. But if you said, “Hey, I think our accounting methods are hiding liabilities off-book,” they’d call up their lawyers saying, “We gotta get rid of her.” Right?

Roy: That’s what happened.

Charlie: That’s what happened. Yeah.

Mary: Yeah, and I’d answer the question by saying there certainly are whistleblowers in all organizations, big, small, we see problems everywhere. I think part of what the difference I would see between a publicly-traded company and a not-publicly-traded company is that now that we have the FTC programs and the IRS programs and CFTC programs, there’s more recognition that the stakes are incredibly high because if you’re engaged in an accounting fraud or bribery of foreign officials and you’re a publicly-traded company, and you know, to these international companies and you’re traded on an American Stock Exchange, then the FTC has jurisdiction. So I think there may be more of an awareness, and I think the stakes can be higher in those circumstances, but I don’t really see a big difference between how they are treated.

Nick: Okay. So it could be kind of a function of the culture and the values of those organizations irrespective of size, industry, public listing, whatever. Anything to add there, Roy? Oh, sorry, Charlie, go ahead.

Charlie: Public companies are under more scrutiny than private companies. Private companies can get away with more, right, because you’ve got more remedies. If a company is subject to Sarbanes-Oxley, then there’s greater legal protections, there’s more people you can run to, you know. If one guy owns a company and he’s the CEO, who are you gonna run to?

Nick: Good point.

Roy: I think the only thing I would add there, Nick, is that, you know, it gets back to this, you know, the more awareness you build and all that, the better. I’m sorry to keep harping on it, education, all that. But, man, these small 50-person companies, it’s such a huge disadvantage because there are fewer people with experience of this type, you know, the awareness of how to fix the problem, how to find a problem, how to respond to a whistleblower. At least in larger companies, even though like Charlie was saying, they have bigger frustrations associated with losing revenue or increasing expense or the stock prices and all these sort of things, but at least they have more employees who are more aware of this stuff and I really…pity isn’t the right word, but 50 to 100 to 200-person company, not only lack of understanding, but resources, I mean, you can’t…in a 50-person company, it’s difficult to hire a full-time person to prevent, find, and fix ethical and regulatory problems. They got one foot in the hole right out of the gate, in my opinion.

Nick: I got a question here for you guys. I would want to first note, we’ve been getting some complaints in the chat about some sound issues, so apologies for that. Apparently, GoToWebinar is having a couple of issues. We’ll be sending the recording out, like I said, after this. And please send some more questions in because this conversation is really good and I want to make sure that we’re covering everyone’s questions. Here’s one, “As a compliance officer, when I’m investigating a whistleblower complaint and I present my findings and recommendations to the CEO and the board, but they either choose to ignore it, I usually provide the whistleblower with all my findings packaged with a bow and give them instructions on how to file a report to the government. Is this wrong, and as the chief compliance officer, will I be liable if I document my multiple attempts and discussions with the board and the CEO?” So, I mean, this kind of speaks to some of the conflict that I was kind of alluding to before. What do you guys think about that question in this, I don’t know, this kind of area of discussion?

Charlie: Well, I really look forward to this person joining our ranks as the, you know, formerly employed…

Nick: Come on in, the water is fine. Yeah.

Charlie: I mean, come on, you know, management is not going to like that.

Mary: Yeah. I think it’s obviously…taking that stance will have you quickly sent out the door. You would then have a strong retaliation claim, potentially, but it’s just going to put you in a place of, as Charlie said, being a whistleblower and, you know, it’s hard to get a job from that vantage point. But in terms of your liability, I think you just have to keep papering the record and then eventually you need to go to the authorities if it’s not being addressed. So, yeah, you certainly can be liable. I think the prosecutor will…in prosecutorial discretion, the person that they’re least likely to go after is the compliance officer who was routinely asking them to correct it. Yeah. And I guess I would point out too that, you know, the FTC program is an anonymous program. So depending on the fact pattern, whether you could remain anonymous and report, compliance officers are allowed to report under the FTC program. It just would depend on if the fact pattern is such that you’re the only one who has that information and by reporting, if an investigation started and they would know it’s you, then anonymity doesn’t do you much good.

Nick: Right. Unless you’re outsourcing your investigations, but yeah, that’s exactly right.

Charlie: Who are you principally trying to take care of, right? I mean, I have complete compassion for somebody who says, “I’m not going to blow the whistle because my job is taking care of my kids. It’s not taking care of the world.” Right? I mean, think about the VW scandal. Right? Thousands of people knew that one of the world’s largest companies was designing products to intentionally break the law. Thousands of people knew it. They didn’t talk. Right? They’re not dumb. They knew the consequences of talking would be bad. So it’s completely understandable to shut up and get along, you know, get your children’s education paid for, you know, get your retirement paid for, right? I mean, I wish the world were different, but, I mean, it’s a practical, good decision to shut up and let your company continue to commit fraud.

Nick: Yeah, I mean, I know the Nazi soldiers were bad guys. You know what I mean? Go ahead, Mary, I’m kidding.

Mary: So while I agree with that having watched, you know, so many careers and lives be ruined as a whistleblower lawyer, this is something that I grapple with, which is that’s the last thing we want to do, right? We want the canaries to sing. We don’t want them to be silenced. And I keep coming back to tech, that we’ve been promoting a platform where we try and create something we call a whistleblower aggregator. So is there a way, if you think about the Volkswagen situation or the Boeing situation where there were multiple whistleblowers all knowing about this, if they’re all individually in their silos feeling too scared to speak up, what if there was a platform that allowed them to be connected to one another? And then that suddenly, sort of, adds in the Me Too movement. Then we have a bunch of people who are all saying the same thing. Then do you have the courage and the comradery if you’ve linked arms?

So the platform we’ve been inspired by is a platform under the Me Too movement called the Callisto Project, which was started as a database aggregator just allowing victims of sexual assault on campus to at least be able to date stamp their…even if they don’t want to raise it to the college or to the perpetrator, at least have it date stamped. You can imagine if Christine Blasey Ford had done that back in her days what that might’ve meant. But in addition, they said, “If you tick a box, we will not only preserve your information, but we will notify you, if you agree, if someone else lines up behind you with the same allegations, then you can reconsider your decision.” If we took that kind of technology and applied it to whistleblowers, my view is that we would have stopped some of the Boeing scenarios before planes fell from the sky and maybe we would have stopped Volkswagen’s emission scandal much earlier.

Nick: I mean, if you’ve got a canary in the coal mine, and there’s another canary next to him that’s not singing, then he’s going to start to think, “What am I singing about?” You know what I’m saying? But, I mean, think about Tyler Shultz maybe would have never spoken up at Theranos had he not had that interaction we were talking about with his colleague. And he said, “Okay, well, somebody else is seeing this. I’m not crazy here. We need to do something about it.” And that can be that seed of courage that can actually cause someone to raise their hand and say something.

Mary: I totally agree. We spend part of our job just trying to matchmake whistleblowers. I often have whistleblowers come to me because the problem is, it’s not just that you think you’re crazy, it’s that if you’re Tyler Shultz and you’re in one part of the company and Erika Cheung is in a different part, you don’t know until you’ve put your information together that you now can see different pieces of it and can corroborate it. So I think that’s the power here. And I think Tyler Shultz would tell you that, but for Erika coming forward and describing her vantage point from the lab point of view was something that helped spur him forward.

Nick: We’re gonna say something, Charlie?

Charlie: I was going to say that the technology point is a great one, right? And we need more technology solutions to this because think about how hard it is to keep a secret in the age of cell phones. Every one of us is walking around with a device that can take pictures, that can store a filing cabinet full of documents in our pocket. Right? And yet companies that are systematically breaking the law are able to keep that a secret. That is amazing. Right? And it’s because they have this power of blackballing. It’s because the older companies in the industry back their play. “Hey, we’re VW, and we fired this guy because, eh, he’s not a good fit.” Right? Well, translation, because he was complaining about our illegal activity. And so, you know, BMW and Porsche don’t hire him either. Well, that is powerful and that’s nefarious. Right? And companies need to be called into account for that. “Have you ever hired a whistleblower?” “No.” “Okay. You’re a fraudster. So now we’ve got to find the fraud that you’re hiding,” is my perspective. Because I think there’s a lot more fraud out there than people think, right, and most companies have stuff to file.

Mary: To Charlie’s point, if you put a whistleblower as head of compliance, you send a signal, we were sort of asking, how as compliance people do we engender the trust to have people come forward? I only know one company, which is Thomson Reuters, hired a known whistleblower by the name of Martin Woods to be head. He was the Wachovia Bank’s whistleblower. That sends a signal, right? It’s not just hire whistleblowers, but hire whistleblowers and put them as heads of compliance.

Nick: I got a great comment here, and I’d love to hear everyone’s reaction to it. “The role of the chief compliance officer is to promote a culture of integrity and encourage employees to speak up. Suggesting a chief compliance officer to not report something that is wrong suggests that the chief compliance officer is not trustworthy and unfit to be in his or her role.” What’s your reaction to that statement?

Charlie: Not report something to whom?

Nick: To the CEO, you know what I mean? To the board.

Roy: Let me share a thought related to maybe both the last two questions. First of all, you have to imagine the compliance professional theoretically is the person who the company is saying all ethical and regulatory problems go to you. Every one of them, you know, you gotta go find them, you gotta respond to the hotline calls, but you’re going to get more than anybody else. So you’re going to be challenged with a number of times a year going to leadership and saying, “We’ve got to fix this.” And, by the way, why do we have compliance officers at all? It’s because those who came before us failed to prevent, find, and fix ethical and regulatory problems. Everyone, HR, risk, audit, legal, ethics failed to prevent, find, and fix ethical and regulatory problems to the point to which we created another profession in your C-suite profession, basically saying, “All this stuff these other people didn’t want to do you get to do all day.”

And you have to have mad influence skills. As a matter of fact, in SCCE we went out of our way to try and teach people negotiation, collaboration, compromise, influence. A woman named Jeannie O’Brien and I did a general session at a couple of very large meetings about influence and it’s really well received. In answer to a couple of these questions, I would suggest that those involved in the compliance community spend as much time on the people skills training as you do with audit investigation, risk training, etc. It’s a huge part of the job, and so if you want to be better at it, you’ve got to work on it.

Charlie: Why does compliance exist? Compliance exists to protect the company. I mean, their job is to bring the company into compliance so that the company doesn’t suffer the ill effects of not being in compliance. And so that’s where the tension comes in. Protecting the company frequently means attacking the whistleblower. There’s this, sort of, short-term benefit of getting rid of the whistleblower.

Roy: Charlie, I’m sorry, I gotta object. There are are no compliance officers I met ever in 25 years, meeting thousands of these people, who had the idea to attack a whistleblower. Maybe they just didn’t reveal it to me because it would be profoundly–of a compliance professional.

Charlie: I mean, we’ve got thousands of delusional people. That’s what happens to whistleblowers.

Roy: just that you gotta understand, you gotta hang out with the compliance community. They’re a different breed. And they believe¬†¬†Yeah, but it’s their job isn’t to protect their company. It’s on the list. They believe their job is to prevent, find, and fix ethical and regulatory problems using all the elements of a compliance program. Investigation, audit, education, hotlines, these sorts of tools. So I have never met a compliance officer who believes their job is to attack anyone to prevent a problem from being fixed to protect the company. Maybe they don’t talk to me.

Nick: Let me…Go ahead, Mary.

Mary: So I can just tell you from my vantage point that I definitely agree and we all know that people go into compliance because they want to help people toe the line and be legal and ethical. The problem is that the perception by many of my whistleblower clients is that we joke and call compliance officers “compliant officers,” because there’s a view that they will not, you know, that once they bring that information to them, nothing will be done with it. So I think that’s the thing needs to change. I don’t know how you change it, but I can tell you that is the joke, is that that’s how compliance officers…

Roy: Here’s what I think is happening. You’re meeting the people where compliance may have failed, and I’m meeting the people who are trying so hard, they’re going to conferences at great expense and a fair amount of time. People who have decided to become certified. I’m meeting all the people who are trying, and you may be meeting the people who aren’t so much. And by the way, I will acknowledge I don’t meet them because they don’t come out to hang with compliance professionals. But there are companies who hire compliance people in name only. One company hired a compliance officer in Chicago, who was the marketing guy. And guess what? They found a problem that was a medical device issue caused blindness, and he covered it up because his income would have been affected by disclosing the issue. That dude went to jail for seven years. You could call him a compliance officer. I would not call him a compliance officer. They put the name on him, but he didn’t do anything.

And then also, Mary, there are whole industries where the compliance…I won’t mention which ones, but they are big. And they haven’t matured in their compliance program. They see it as a check the box deal. The solution to all this, by the way, is for the profession to continue to mature and grow. And I really would love to see you and Charlie go, when COVID is over, to…Matter of fact, I’m gonna hokey up. I’m gonna beg the guy who replaced me, this new CEO of SCCE and HECA, Jerry, to invite you guys to speak at the next live conference…

Nick: Yeah. Do that.

Roy: …if you’ll promise me that you’ll hang around for a couple of days and go sit at the break tables and the lunch tables and chat with these people who are at the other end of the spectrum of the people that maybe you’re running into. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.

Charlie: Well, there’s a huge disconnect because I absolutely believe you that the compliance folks have every intention of making the companies compliant. But I can’t reconcile that with…look at what just happened with Goldman, right? One of the world’s best-run firms just had to pay multibillion-dollar fines for one MBD, right? They have a world-class compliance team. Those people aren’t dumb, right? How do you mistake that?

Nick: I would say none of those auditors were dumb. Or maybe they were just the biggest idiots ever, but those guys were changing auditors like crazy. To your point though, that’s all we caught.

Charlie: I mean, how did that happen? How did they miss that?

Nick: I’d say that they probably didn’t miss it, to your point.

Charlie: Yeah.

Mary: I hear you, absolutely, Roy, and I have attended because I love the SCCE conferences and I would love to come to more, I see all the good people. And I think part of the problem is that, and I hear this a lot from compliance folks is you never get to hear about our successes, the times where it didn’t metastasize into a whistleblower case. We never get to talk about and celebrate those. And I hear that that has to be enormously frustrating because it’s only the times when, for whatever reason, a whistleblower persisted and felt the need to move forward that we, kind of, hear these things. So I absolutely hear you. Unfortunately, like you said, I am confronted with situations where you have compliance officers and the rogues less than what I think the industry–You don’t go into compliance, you know, because you want to make a ton of money. You go into compliance because you want to help organizations be ethical and comply. And the irony, of course, is that you yourself are a whistleblower. You’re the ones who are raising problems all the time. You’re always raising problems.

Roy: I’ll tell you what, Mary, that is an absolutely fascinating way to look at it is, “Here, come be our compliance officer. We’ll pay you this amount of money. We’ll give you a nice office. And what you get to do is be a whistleblower for a living.” Now, I want to qualify what I just said. I’m kind of playing out Mary’s thing, is part of the whistleblower thing is to bring to leadership the problems, which is going to frustrate the bejesus out of them in a lot of cases because people are going to maybe get fired and, you know, financial statements restated and public embarrassment. Now, “How’d you like to do that for a living?” Charlie has done it, and Mary’s point is right. It’s like how’d you like to do that on a monthly basis? There’s probably a major issue brought to leadership on a monthly basis in a big organization. And, by the way, I will acknowledge that some of the…you know, I met a lot of people and hung out with them for 25 years. But there are some who hit the brick wall, you know, where the leadership won’t follow up on a particular problem.

It is a beautiful profession for the people who want…all these people in the society who are saying, “I want to do the right thing. I want the world to become a better place. I want people to get treated right,” come join the compliance profession. This is what our job is and we need all we can get. Oh, by the way, a near C-suite level job created in the last 20 years, zero people within education. There are now compliance degrees, but very few relative to, say, law, risk, and audit. We’ve had to take people from other professions who had no idea how to run a compliance program over the last 20 years and train them to do this job. Imagine what the compliance profession will be able to do in the next 20 years when instead of 10 or 20 years of experience, they got 30 or 40. This is going to get better.

Nick: Yeah, it’s going to get better. I just want to say to the audience, we’re running over a little bit so we’re probably going to go a couple more minutes. There’s a couple more items I want to talk about. If you want to leave, go ahead. Like I said, we’ll send around–the last couple of minutes at that point. I love that idea of us being, kind of, full-on whistleblowers, and I love the idea that over the next 20 years, we have a lot of opportunity to professionalize this profession even more. I think an important piece of that, you know, whether we can arrive at that, sort of, destination or not is going to be a function of whether we can take the feedback that’s coming along the way, and some of the things that Mary talked about in terms of the caricature that compliance can be and the discussion with somebody who’s, you know, in her office talking about going after someone, some of the characteristics that Charlie has talked about in his frustration with the profession and the implications of it.

I think if we can work on that identity problem, and we can work on an awareness issue and work on trying to do the persuasion and the influence that Roy was talking about in the context of our broader organization, we can really begin to move that culture. But if we are just, kind of, sitting at the kiddie table forever, then we’re just going to just check the box function that’s just there to “protect the company,” well, then we’re always gonna run into these issues, we’re always gonna run into these conflicts, and ultimately, it’s going to leave our workplaces in a worse spot. There’s a great debate going on in the chat right now. So I just wanted to kind of share that with everybody and we can kind of chop it up a little bit. So, two things.

So one person is saying, “Compliance officers are employed to find, fix, and resolve legal and regulatory problems for the benefit of the company.” That’s kind of what Charlie’s position is. And then somebody else went on to say that, you know, “This is why compliance should be separate from an organization’s legal team. As a chief compliance officer and attorney, I remind my organization daily that I’m obligated to uphold the law and prevent wrongdoing, not to protect the company and not to cover up wrongdoing.” So just the fact that we have two compliance officers in the chat who have these diametrically opposed views speaks to some of the truing up that we need to do across our organizations.

Roy: I gotta say this real quickly, we’ll hear from Charlie and Mary, but that was the smartest thing I ever heard is, I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect, that separate from legal. You know, when I hear Charlie and Mary describe compliance a little bit, it does kinda sound like legal. Certainly sounds like a compliance department that’s reporting to legal. Because legal is there to defend the company. And I don’t like it when people say that compliance is there to defend the company. They’re there to solely prevent, find, and fix ethical and regulatory problems with all the elements of a compliance program. Whatever happens, happens. Okay?

Now, if you want to describe a department that is there to defend the company from a legal and ethical wrongdoing perspective, sounds to me like the legal department. And holy cow, you can’t report to legal and not have to defend the company. So this is the most beautiful way I’ve ever seen this topic come out so clearly, is we’re discussing this idea of who’s defending whom, and I’m saying we’re not defending the company in the sense that the legal is. And by golly, we definitely shouldn’t report to legal. Realize that you’re neutral about the whole thing.

Nick: I see. Okay.

Charlie: I agree. They can’t report to legal. My final thought is the issue with compliance is that it’s a cost center, right? Companies are generally there to make money, right, and it is necessary to comply with the law for the long-term wellbeing of the company and ethics and all those things. That’s why I think the absolute most powerful thing a company can do, don’t hire a whistleblower to be head of compliance, hire a whistleblower who’s qualified as a tax guy to be a tax guy. The cost of that, the marginal cost of that is zero, right? Hire a whistleblower who’s hired to be a bond salesman to, I don’t know, sell bonds. Right? And then prove that they don’t get fired when they do that nasty whistleblowing thing.

Nick: Yeah. I mean, to your point, if a guy is working in the safety department in a manufacturing facility, making him the compliance officer probably doesn’t make a lot of sense from whistleblower perspective because he might not have those skills, but making him head of safety, for example, can help create that culture of whistleblowing within that little division that he’s running. You know what I mean?

Charlie: Yeah. I’m not saying don’t hire them in compliance. I’m just saying that there’s a cheaper, better way to do it. Hire him for what he’s qualified to do.

Nick: Yeah. Mary?

Mary: I agree with Roy that the fact that there’s these competing views within a very educated, specialized field shows you why my clients…if you can’t tell for yourself where you fit, my clients can’t figure out, are you safe to talk to or am I just talking to legal, in which case I know…? Or even if you are safe to talk to you, your information has to go to a board or to a C-suite that includes people who have either cooked up this scandal or this idea or are complicit. So I think that’s part of the problem. One thing, I hate ending on a negative note, I’d love to end on a positive note, which is, I think to Charlie’s point, that compliance is a cost center and that compliance officers are, in fact, whistleblowers. They’re just telling companies bad news. It’s interesting. Tyler Shultz and his co-whistleblower Erika Cheung have founded an organization in Silicon Valley called Ethics in Entrepreneurship.

And the idea is because I think particularly in Silicon Valley…I don’t know if you have any Silicon Valley compliance officers or start-up compliance officers on this call. But that companies don’t want to hear bad news, but they particularly don’t want to hear that in an entrepreneurial space where we’re going to change the world and we need you all to be team players and you all have to just drink the Kool-Aid. And so I think Ethics in Entrepreneurship grew up because they wanted to become a trusted place where companies at the inception phase would bake good corporate governance in so that you don’t get down the road where you are in Theranos and there’s no conception of…I mean, Theranos I’m sure had no clue what a compliance officer was or wasn’t, or should or shouldn’t have been. I mean, that’s a fantastic example. So I think compliance officers are incredibly helpful and useful, but I think, to Roy’s point, your emotional intelligence to become a whistleblower whisperer, if you can hear what they’re saying, then you can, I think, help placate and re-steer some of this energy to make sure things get corrected at an early stage.

Nick: Have you trademarked that “whistleblower whisperer” thing yet?

Mary: So I actually…I say that because in my firm I’ve been known as the whistleblower whisperer. But we did a wonderful article that featured one of my clients in “The New York Times” and that was…sorry, in “The New Yorker” magazine. And that’s what they picked up on.

Nick: I love it.

Charlie: Charlie would tell you, I mean, it requires enormous emotional intelligence and empathy to deal with whistleblowers and understand their situations because by the time they come to you, there’s so much, you know, intestinal distress.

Nick: Totally. So we are about 10 minutes over. I think we should wrap up. I appreciate Charlie, Mary, Roy hopping on here today. This was one of the best discussions we’ve had and I think, you know, sometimes these webinars, they’re just like a bunch of words. And I feel like we kind of got down to a meaty topic and we, kind of, really chewed it up from a couple of different angles. And I was left with a couple of takeaways. You know, we have some identity issues within the compliance game that we need to work on, not only, sort of, externally but also with respect to our whistleblowers. There’s probably some things that we can do to help increase the credibility of our functions, even at a corporate level by not only not blackballing whistleblowers but also taking that, sort of, positive step forward in trying to incorporate them and make a big deal about them.

And to some of the points Roy was making, it all starts with culture, I think. It starts with a voice from the top and there are things that we can do within our organizations to parade those people around, create incentives for whistleblowing, asking people in their performance reviews, “What have you spoken up about today?” Because I think in any complex organism, in any complex organization, there’s always going to be stuff that’s not going right. And you can’t have a commitment to continuous improvement if you’re not willing to hear, you know, the bad news, which is reality sometimes, and do something about it. It’s not a game of sweeping stuff under the rug. It’s about cleaning out the garage and sweeping that stuff out and actually fixing stuff. So, totally indebted to you guys. Appreciate you so much for joining. Thank you, everyone, for joining us. We had almost 150 people stick around to the end, so glad this was as riveting for you all as it was for us, and we’ll be sending that around soon. So Charlie, Roy, Mary, thank you, guys so much.

Roy: Thank you, everyone.

Mary: Thank you. It’s my pleasure. Thanks.

Nick: Bye.

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