Speak Up: The Book That Reveals How Silence Is Damaging Businesses

Speak Up: The Book That Reveals How Silence Is Damaging Businesses
Speak Up: The Book That Reveals How Silence Is Damaging Businesses

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. In fact, research reveals the scale of the problem with 1 in 4 junior employees thinking they would be punished if they spoke up about a problem at work and only half of those with an idea they think would benefit the business feeling able to share it. Silence, then, is a major issue for companies.

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.


Why this book matters:

  • Scandals in the news – Volkswagen, Arcadia Group, Patisserie Valerie, Carillion have all been damaged as a result of scandals caused by people not speaking out!
  • #METOO – attitudes to speaking out are changing but a culture of silence still prevails
  • Changes to the law – the government has announced plans to ban the use of non-disclosure agreements to prevent employees reporting abuse
  • Expert authors – Megan Reitz is Professor of Leadership at Ashridge Hult Business School. She is on the Thinkers50 radar of global business thinkers and is ranked in HR Magazine’s Most Influential Thinker listing. John Higgins is Research Director at The Right Conversation and has worked with Business Schools around the world.

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. Engaging real life examples and practical exercises in the book will help readers to speak up with confidence, to increase their personal impact, navigate office politics and help create an honest, open and innovative workplace.

The authors

Megan Reitz is Professor of Leadership and Dialogue at Ashridge Executive Education, Hult International Business School, where she speaks, researches, consults and supervises on the intersection of leadership, change, dialogue and mindfulness. She is on the Thinkers50 radar of global business thinkers and is ranked in HR Magazine’s Most Influential Thinker listing.

John Higgins is Research Director at The Right Conversation, where he’s working to develop a ‘Speak‐Up Index’ (a measure of organizational transparency) and Research Fellow at Gameshift. He has written widely alongside the faculty and students of Masters and Doctoral programmes on organizational change. His work draws heavily on insights from his longstanding engagement with the psychoanalytic process.


 

 

 

 


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