Last week as I was walking into the mall I overheard someone on the cell phone saying “I don’t wanna be a snitch, but….” Well, of course that caught my attention! Who wouldn’t be a little curious, right? Ok, so maybe it’s me and my ethics focus, but I couldn’t help it. I started wondering what this caller was snitching about. Of course, my curiosity went unsatisfied – although tempting it is just not appropriate to walk up to someone and ask what they’re snitching about, even if they are talking on a cell phone loud enough to wake the dead in a very public place…!
In all seriousness, though, the word “snitch” evokes a very negative reaction for most people, and as I wandered about the mall one part of my brain contemplated this connotation. In business many of our tips about fraud come from insiders who report, or “snitch” about what they’ve seen. Fraud costs businesses millions of dollars every year, and companies pass these costs along to us consumers. Without these tips the cost to business would be even higher, because fraud would continue unchecked for even longer than the average 18 months it currently takes to detect. So why do we pin a negative tag to “snitching”? Why do we want to avoid “snitching” as if it makes us feel somehow dirty or hurtful in some way?
Snitches have a way of ferreting out information that most of us are unable to obtain. I would argue that this is just another way of saying “snitches” are more observant than the average human. So this could be a positive ways to look at “snitching,” right? Especially if we can somehow wrap our minds around viewing snitching as a way to clean up injustices, unfair treatment, theft and other inappropriate behaviors. We could instead view snitching as life saving, like the GSK quality assurance manager who noticed they were mixing drugs on the production line back in 2002. We could also view a snitch as a problem solver or risk reduction manager, in that we evaluate business practices in order to keep costs low and stay competitive.
Wouldn’t it be really nice if, as a result of snitching efforts, those new-found cost savings would be passed along to us consumers….?! Yeah, that’s too much to hope for. So for now, let’s try to remember that snitching does have a positive side to it!