亲爱的良心：你提问的时机很有意思。证券交易委员会（Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC）在几周前刚刚宣布将向金融犯罪的匿名告发者发放其史上首笔赏金，这笔5万美元的奖金达到了法定的最高限额，为执法收益的30%。这条新闻让公司（可能也包括你的东家在内）担心，金钱回报会促使人们直接向证券交易委员会或者其它政府机构，如职业安全与健康管理局（OSHA）告发犯罪行径，而不是首先提醒老板。
此外，根据专攻劳工法的律师事务所Seyfarth Shaw的数据，监管者收到的检举数量持续上升，从2008年以来了增加20%，但结案数量几乎不变，同期内仅上升了0.5% 。“这么多未结案的诉讼让公司和雇员都很尴尬，”Seyfarth Shaw驻芝加哥的合伙人詹姆斯•柯蒂斯指出。“法律严禁打击报复，对此类行为给予严厉处罚，所以公司都会小心翼翼地处理，避免给人留下惩罚告密者的印象。”
你没有提到你所见到的行为是违法的，还是仅仅违背道德。如果是后者，这里有些有趣的背景材料：根据非营利性研究机构伦理资源中心（Ethics Resource Center）的一项研究，在年收入不低于50亿美元的公司中，超过一半（52%）的员工声称他们在过去12个月中观察到同事有不道德（但通常并未违法）的行为。而对于销售额低于50亿美元的公司，这个百分比为45%。
所以很明显，如果你要告发同事，一定要小心谨慎。戴尔•卡耐基培训公司（Dale Carnegie Training）的CEO彼得•韩铎建议按照如下的3个步骤来采取行动。“首先，对你的下属，如果只是小错，何不直接谈一谈？”他说。“要让下属明了你的立场。”
Dear Annie:I've never seen this problem addressed in your column before, but I'm hoping you and your readers can give me some pointers. I've been in my current job as a regional department head at a financial services company for about eight months now, and during that time I've repeatedly witnessed instances of less-than-ethical behavior on the part of both my immediate boss (who has been here for about 20 years) and a couple of the people under me.
It seems that some of these practices are just part of the corporate culture here, since no one but me seems to have any objection to them. So far, I've been "going along to get along," basically turning a blind eye, but it's making me uncomfortable. I'd like to take action, but I'm not sure what to do. Reporting the misconduct to higher-ups seems politically unwise, especially since I'm still relatively new here and probably viewed as highly replaceable. Is there any way to blow the whistle without also having to look for another job? — Uneasy
Dear Uneasy:You've picked an interesting moment to ask. As you may know, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced a couple of weeks ago that it will pay out its first-ever bounty of $50,000 -- 30% of the amount collected in an enforcement action, which is the maximum allowed by law -- to an anonymous whistleblower who reported financial wrongdoing. This has raised concerns among employers (maybe even yours) that the prospect of a monetary reward will prompt people to report wrongdoing directly to the SEC, or another government agency like OSHA, without first alerting their bosses.
Moreover, according to employment law firm Seyfarth Shaw, the number of whistleblower complaints to regulators has been climbing, up about 20% since 2008 -- but the number of cases that have been resolved has stayed flat, rising barely 0.5% over the same period. "Having so many open cases hanging around creates a really awkward situation for employers and employees alike," notes James Curtis, a Seyfarth Shaw partner in Chicago. "The statutes prohibiting retaliation against whistleblowers carry heavy penalties, so companies have to tread very carefully to avoid even the appearance of punishing an employee who has reported misconduct."
You don't mention whether the behavior you've witnessed is illegal, or whether it's merely unsavory. If it's the latter, here's a bit of background you might find intriguing: More than half (52%) of employees in companies with revenues of $5 billion or more say they have observed unethical (but usually not illegal) behavior by colleagues over the past 12 months, according to astudy by nonprofit research group Ethics Resource Center. At companies with sales of less than $5 billion, the percentage is 45%.
That doesn't necessarily mean big-company employees are less ethical. The same study noted that, the bigger the company, the more likely it is to conduct formal ethics training, which makes people more aware of standards and expectations in this area, hence perhaps more likely to speak up about infractions.
Overall, the five most commonly cited forms of bad behavior were conducting personal business with company resources, spotted by 29% of employees polled; abusive behavior toward coworkers or subordinates (22%); lying to employees (21%); illegal discrimination (18%), and Internet abuse (17%).
Most alarming, the study says that retaliation against people who report wrongdoing to higher-ups is rising. More than one in five (22%) experienced some form of revenge in 2011, versus 12% in 2007, and 15% in 2009. The most common punishments: Being passed over for a raise or a promotion, being relocated or reassigned, or getting demoted, although "physical attacks against the reporter's property" jumped from 4% in 2009 to a startling 31% last year.
So clearly, if you're going to inform on your colleagues, you need to tread carefully. Peter Handal, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training, suggests approaching your response in three stages. "First, with the people under you, if the misconduct is relatively minor, why not just have a conversation about it?" he says. "Let your direct reports know where you stand."