Corporate culture, employee empowerment, and workplace wellness are hot topics in business these days. Yet many people — particularly women and minorities — might argue that the shift to less-toxic workplaces isn’t happening fast enough. Every one of us, from executives to entry-level employees and even consumers, has the power to influence the way business operates. So, how do we ignite that power to speed things up?
As Business Leaders: Provide a Mission
It can be easy to assume your employees only show up for the obvious reasons — money and stability. But 73 percent of people consider purpose to be their principal driver at work. When leaders fail to engage employees with a clear mission, they threaten their entire corporate culture — people become unhappy, begin to treat each other with less trust and respect, and become uninspired in their work.
Everyone yearns for a mission, and a well-working business has the responsibility to provide one. Define an authentic mission that speaks to your company and what your team values, and develop it over time. If you engage your employees directly in the process and gain buy-in across the organization, you’ll soon find the mission defines everything your company does.
As Employees: Be Internal Allies
Despite making up the majority of the labor force, women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community still face workplace discrimination at disturbing rates. For example, more than half of American workers are women, yet they make up only 29 percent of executive- and senior-level managers. One in five Americans admit to making an offensive comment about an LGBT co-worker within the past year. Yet 63 percent of people who witnessed offensive comments about their LGBT colleagues did nothing about it. Racial discrimination often happens before a hire is even made, as studies indicate hiring managers are more likely to contact applicants with white-sounding names.
When corporate culture is weak, everyone feels it, but the situation is even worse for people who already feel isolated and disengaged. The best thing you can do is help make the workplace an environment where members of these groups, are heard — and this doesn’t mean speaking more for others. Rather, get out of the way, let others have their say, and amplify their input when possible. Further, when discriminatory behavior occurs, report it. Change happens fast when you work to create a space that holds accountability for how people are treated.
As Bystanders: Speak with Your Wallet
As Yuval Noah Harari wrote in “Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind”: “The world is motivated by money and greed.”
Time and money are your voice. If we want to change how the world works and how people are treated, we need to address and manage how we earn and spend our money. If you happen to be unlucky enough to witness the customer side of a poor company culture, take your business elsewhere. The #DeleteUber campaign following reports of rampant sexual harassment at the company resulted in a loss of 200,000 customers overnight. The company eventually fired its CEO.
People expect to work in healthy environments that encourage teamwork, fairness, consistency, accountability, collaboration, and connection. If you are passionate about empowerment and equality, then demand the same for others.