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Fortune: Women More Effective Whistleblowers

A recent article in Fortune magazine explored the issue of whistleblowing and how it appears that women are more likely than men to call out illegal or unethical activities within their organizations. 

The article features the story of Carmen Segarra, a New York Federal Reserve examiner who recognized a problematic relationship between her agency and investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. Her job was to serve as a watchdog for the firm, but was fired just seven months after starting. She did, however, record hours of conversations among her co-workers that suggested the New York Fed provided special treatment to the investment bank. 

Although both the Fed and Goldman Sachs denied Segarra’s claims, it was another woman dedicated to exposing wrongdoing, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who stepped in to call for an investigation at the federal level. 

The Fortune article explores three different reasons why women could be more inclined to become whistleblowers:

  • Although some advocates note that women don’t take enough risks in their careers, psychologists say they are more likely to see the entire picture when it comes to business risk. In that same vein, women are less likely to tolerate unethical corporate activities.
  • Women may have it in their genes to protect people in disadvantageous positions, including those who would eventually suffer due to corporate wrongdoing.
  • Despite the fact that it’s the 21st century, women often remain outsiders in the corporate world. While this creates a glass ceiling effect when it comes to career movement, people who are left out of “the club” might not feel an obligation to protect their colleagues who are engaged in unethical practices. 

The writer of the Fortune article makes it clear that these are generalizations and represent the opinions of researchers and Sharron Watkins, a former vice president at Enron who tried to expose wrongdoing at the company before its collapse. 

Regardless of your gender, if you recognize unethical or illegal activities within a business, organization or government agency, you may need to come forward with information to protect the public interest. Speak with a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers to learn more.   

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