Why SILENCE about HATE is the biggest threat to the workplace

by Matt Manners, Founder & CEO of The Employee Engagement Awards

I’ve been wondering whether to write this blog for a while but recent global events have made me realise it’s my duty to.

I must stress this blog isn’t political. I’m not a political animal. It’s more an open letter in response to recent events, which seem to have given hatred, xenophobia, and a desire to exclude people, a public voice and platform.

Some of you may know I’m committed to helping to improve the world of work. That’s why I founded The Employee Engagement Awards in 2014. At work, people are held more accountable for intolerable actions that they might get away with outside of work. But does that mean everyone is “psychologically safe” at work. David Zinger and Jason Lauritsen first made me aware of this term. It can be defined as: “being able to show one’s true self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career.” In psychologically safe teams, team members feel accepted and respected. But studies show that only 5% of us feel it.

When psychological safety is present, team members think less about the potential negative consequences of expressing a new or different idea than they would otherwise. As a result, they speak up more when they feel psychologically safe and are motivated to improve their team or company.

As we become more globalised and the world shrinks (something that is under threat at present) cultures, beliefs, races, languages, sexualities are all intersecting like particles at the Hadron collider. This melting pot represents a feeding ground for the intolerant and for those who seek to intimidate. Unless we stop them.

Edmund Burke said. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I’ve long been an avid student of history and politics. History tells us that Burke is right. When good men do nothing – bad things happen. That’s why “our” silence is dangerous. I am a straight, middle class, western, white male. I can’t even begin to imagine the struggles that others have had to endure. It’s for this reason, I feel privileged to have seen the work being done around Diversity and Inclusion. The brave and bold work to make people feel equal and safe. A feeling that we each belong as much as the next person.

So, I ask those in positions of power, what type of businesses and jobs are you creating? Do you run a country or a business where people feel psychologically safe? Or are you allowing fear and hatred to fester and grow.

It’s up to the rest of us not to stay silent and continue to try to build the world we want to live and work in. One without fear of speaking up and contributing. A world that encourages and celebrates diversity.

It is this inclusive approach that will lead to a stronger society, more productive organizations and more sustainable jobs.

So, my question is this. What type of organisations are you going to create? What type of Employee Experience will your workers receive? Will your organisation be a role model for open and safe workplaces where everyone feels that they make a positive contribution and that it’s recognised?


Leave a Reply