Voice of the Employee

The VW emissions scandal, financial misreporting in Japan, sexual misconduct in Hollywood, slavery in global supply chains, doping in sport – each of these scandals was enabled in part by corporate cultures of silence and complicity.


New book Speak Up – say what needs to be said and hear what needs to be heard examines the business imperatives for breaking down silence. Authors, Professor Megan Reitz of Ashridge Hult Business School and John Higgins, Research Director at The Right Conversation, argue that only by creating workplaces where openness and transparency are valued, and where individuals can openly share their ideas and concerns, can businesses hope to avoid scandal in the future and benefit fully from innovative ideas.


This ground-breaking book reveals that a staggering one in 4 junior employees believe they would be punished if they spoke up about a risk in their workplace. Drawing on research involving more than four thousand employees at every level of business Speak Up explores the reasons why many of us choose to stay silent about even the most harmless of things. We lack confidence, are fearful and over-estimate and catastrophise the risks of speaking up.


People are poor at listening too – many of us have a blind spot in relation to our own approachability and ability to hear what’s really being said. We subconsciously apply labels to people which mean we discount or undervalue what they say to us. If we think people are young, inexperienced, long in the tooth or new to the company its highly likely we will discount their views. Worryingly, we do it without even realising.


Readers of Speak Up will learn what stops us speaking up and being heard, how we might be silencing others and how we can manage the risks of speaking up.


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