I have a case, backed up with e-mails which points out that our big, international corporation, for one of it's projects which would cost up to 10mil $ in a long run, gives a preference to the supplier which comes recommended by our CEO. The supplier brings no expertise, no value, nothing to the table and every person from the "floor" who would have to work on the project agrees with this and sees no benefit working with this supplier.

Couple of people in high management, stated in the e-mails to a small group (me included) that they want to still chose that supplier due to the CEO recommendation to win his approvals.

Yearly we go through the re-signing (signing the updated version) of the business policies internally where it stated to always have a fair selection, never do preferences based on "friendships" and so on.

We also have a system in place to report such actions - it's a quite detailed form where everything has to be stated with names, dates, details.

My concern here is that this supplier involvement is taking the work from the hands of the employees who want and can do it and everyone from the management agrees with that, but still only for the "comes recommended" part want to contract the supplier for almost years ahead which would eventually result in a lot of money paid for people just "walking around" and just to "please the ceo" that his friends are sorted out now.

I want to report that! I even have secretly reported a meeting where this was voiced once. So i have the facts, but I am seriously afraid for my job and any other forms of further harassment. I was openly objecting this motion, but couldn't overrule it so if anything comes now from the legal angle - even my anonymous report would point to me eventually.

I can of course let it go, but it just professionally painful to observe and extremely de-motivational for other employees.

Anyone had experience with such cases? How does this go? Is the fight of a small man vs. big corp - worth it?

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  • Does the system you have in place to report the actions deal with the fact that people might not want to have any problems in the future if they report? A first step would be to figure out how anonymously (from your side) this could be done. – skymningen Feb 21 '17 at 15:10
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    Do you have a compliance officer at your company? – user44108 Feb 21 '17 at 15:15
  • Well the system is setup very strictly with tons of policies attached and taking into account local laws which apply to privacy, information sharing and so on. System ( website with a form) - offers me to stay anonymous and guarantees the company commitment to protect me legally from any forms of harassment. But that's just words on the website... And if after my report anyone comes asking questions about that supplier - it would be very clear to those who are involved that it's me who blew the whistle. So much for anonymity... – GeekSince1982 Feb 21 '17 at 15:17
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    You need to ask if your job is more important than your ethics. Reporting something like this will never be anonymous. There is always a way to track it. Even if there are laws to protect you, a way can be found. – Snowlockk Feb 21 '17 at 15:26
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    @GeekSince1982 They will most likely get a slap on the wrist while you lose your job. – Snowlockk Feb 21 '17 at 15:45

I can't really answer whether you should blow the whistle or not. Neither can I comment on any legal aspects. But I will provide a list of some questions you will want to answer before making your choice. This list is not exhaustive.

I would ask myself the following questions. If the answer is yes, then that lends weight to whistle-blowing:

  • Is the action likely to be illegal?
  • Are whistle-blowers protected in your country?
  • Would whistle-blowing change the outcome of the decision?
  • Are you likely to retain your job and career prospects if you whistle-blow?

I would then ask myself the following questions. If the answer is no, then that lends weight to not whistle-blow:

  • Are you financially stable enough to endure a period of unemployment?
  • Are you financially stable enough to endure legal bills?
  • Do you have good employment prospects outside of the business?
  • Does the decision of which supplier to use effect you beyond ethical objections? E.g. would it reduce your ability to move up within the company?
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Based purely on what you have shared in your question no.

Just because a vendor choice is distasteful and perhaps not the optimal choice from where you sit, does not mean that the recommendation was unethical. The CEO may have criteria and reasons for the recommendation that are entirely business related and ethical. Unless you can prove or have a really compelling circumstantial case(like the CEO's wife owns the vendor) otherwise it is going really difficult to show any actionable problems.

And while it is possible that the partnership for your specific part may not make a lot of sense it could be that the big picture partnership with the vendor adds, or has the potential to add, significant value to the company.

Wanting to please your boss is also not unethical. Outsourcing is not unethical. There is nothing here that is obviously unethical. That is not saying that you are wrong for having a bad taste in your mouth over the issue, just that that does not add up to unethical behavior.

As a result there is nothing to be gain for you to report. The results of reporting are certainly a significant risk as while retribution for reporting may be illegal and not supposed to happen, they do anyway and are incredibly hard to prove.

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You are in the most unenviable of positions.

Either you put yourself on the line and possibly never work in the industry again, or you remain quiet, which could put you in a possible situation where you are criminally complicit in a conspiracy.

See a lawyer, find out what the whistle-blower laws are in your area, and follow his advice.

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    This does not really answer the question. While seek the advice of a lawyer can be the TLDR of an answer, that answer should contain a thorough explanation of why the lawyer is the right course of action. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Feb 21 '17 at 17:30

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