Wendy Addison Helps Whistleblowers

Wendy Addison helps Whistleblowers
By Poala van de Velde

WENDY ADDISON - Telegraaf 15JUNE2013

 

AMSTERDAM – Like no other, Wendy Addison knows what Edward Snowden, who this week blew the whistle on extensive eavesdropping and mail-reading practices, is going through. ´He is literally running for his live´. Wendy is a whistleblower as well and paid a huge price for disclosing the malpractices of her (then) employer, the South African company LeisureNet, in 2000. ´Leading to fierce dead threats, ridicule and scorn. I had to run to London, where I eventually ended up as a beggar on the streets.

Ever since, Addison is running her own company ´Speakup Speakout´. With her knowledge and experience, she wants to render emotional, practical and legal support to other whistleblowers and teach organizations how to encourage employees that report injustice or corruption on the work-floor with support, differently. A unique business-model that is still in its infancy. ´I have to learn how to think commercially and to demand more than what is needed to cover expenses. I still live on social welfare´.

The life of this South African woman could easily serve as a filmscript. She began her career as a ballerina, but due to a serious injury she was forced to stop her dancing career and eventually became an accountant. She climbed the ranks up to board member of LeisureNet. When she discovered her bosses Peter Gardener and Rodney Mitchell to be seriously corrupt, she reported this to the authorities.

Soon afterwards, she, as well as her (then) 12 year old son Dylan, received serious death threats.
Addison decided to run to London. In the British capital, she quickly found employment as treasurer at the Virgin Group. ´But within a year I was fired. Owner Richard Branson wanted to do business in South Africa with the two gentlemen I worked for. There was no deal, as long as I would remain in the Virgin management´, Addison explains.´Of course I looked for legal counsel. But Virgin´s sphere of influence is quite substantial in the London City. Understandably, not many lawyers were anxious to take my case´. Finding another job proved to be virtually impossible. I became known as a whistleblower, and on top of that, I was fired by ´business God´ Branson, adored by friend and foe. Next, due to mounting misfortune, my emotional state of mind did not exactly made me appealing for employers´. In despair, she ended up in a squat and was forced to beg for money on the streets.

´As a whistleblower, you don´t just just lose your job´, Addison can tell from experience. ´You also lose your colleagues, friends and family. They turn away from you, because they don´t believe you. But fear seldom provides good guidance. We are being raised with the idea not to stick one´s nose in other people´s business and to keep to ourselves. But injustice is injustice. This can not be tolerated´.
Addison eventually turned to the United Nations. In April 2011, almost 11 years after she disclosed the malpractices at LeisureNet, she found justice on her side and her bosses were sentenced. ´For years I felt like the lonely voice, calling from the mountain top, hearing nothing but the echo of my own words. Now I find myself in the company of policy makers, activists and scientists that support me.

That feels good. With my company, I want to be everyone´s wake-up call. Don´t be afraid, stand up to injustice and become your own hero´.

Static Narratives and the Avoidance of Ethical concerns

All companies have narratives—mission statements, principles, and core values— that communicate the identity and purpose of the firm to its stakeholders, especially the employees. A story that defines a firm’s purpose, mission, and values can empower managers to search for and identify new opportunities that fit within the company’s moral framework and handle unforeseen crises.… Continue reading Static Narratives and the Avoidance of Ethical concerns

Whistleblowing, Ethics in Diverse Cultures

In the wake of Enron, Parmalat, WorldCom, Siemens, Tyco, LeisureNet and the many other corporate scandals that have littered the early years of this millennium, whistleblowing has become a focal point for attention from corporations and their stakeholders. There is considerable concern surrounding whether those individuals who are in a position to prevent potential harm… Continue reading Whistleblowing, Ethics in Diverse Cultures

PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE TO ETHICS VIOLATIONS?

There are two approaches to building organisational culture: One has a deficit focus: detect errors, analyse root causes, plan remedies, and implement corrections. The second has an appreciative, positive focus: seek and draw out human strengths so the organisation self-organises to be even better. With respect to company ethics, the first approach, deficit focus, is… Continue reading PROACTIVE OR REACTIVE TO ETHICS VIOLATIONS?