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I’m unsure if I should report stealing at work

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a female company employee in my 30s. I’ve discovered an act of dishonesty at my office. I’m wondering whether I should report it to someone.

I’m in charge of managing money at work. For some time now I’ve noticed that money from our company’s sales proceeds occasionally disappears, though it’s a small amount each time.

At first I thought I was making a mistake in calculating the figures. But now I’m convinced someone at this company has been stealing the money, since recently it’s been happening more often. I intend to consult with my boss on the issue.

However, I have a concern. If I blow the whistle on this problem, it may cause a scandal that destroys the life of the person who has stolen the money. Whenever I think that a person’s life is at stake, I find myself at a loss over who I should consult. I’ve begun to think that it might be best to stay out of the matter altogether, and even find myself constantly thinking about whether I should leave the company.

Why do some people do things they must not do? I can’t understand why the person has stolen the money.

O, Tokyo

Dear Ms. O:

All you need to do is report the incident to your boss calmly and objectively. That’s it.

However, things might not go smoothly right after you do so. People at your company may discover who blew the whistle — though I would call it a righteous act. Your boss might even scheme to hide the incident.

Nevertheless, you still need to report it calmly and objectively.

In our life and at work, there are crucial points where it is necessary to draw the line. We must not cross the line. If people commit a small offense over and over again, they become less and less aware of such a threshold and don’t notice when they finally move beyond it.

In fact, you are facing one of such crucial points. If you overlook the ongoing offense, it will eventually result in you overlooking a more serious offense later. If you allow it to continue, you may one day notice your company has become a breeding ground for offenses and is on the verge of collapse.

You should absolutely arrest the slide into ruin at this moment. You must put aside your half-hearted consideration of the offender and instead direct your attention on providing care for that person after he or she has been exposed as a thief.

Kiyokazu Washida, philosopher

(from Nov. 28, 2016, issue)Speech

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