The do’s and don’ts of employee activism: How organizations respond to voices of difference

Megan Reitz, John Higgins, Emma Day-Duro

Employee activism is not only here to stay, it is expected to become a defining feature of the workplace. Leaders and organizations are unlikely to be able to continue to avoid or superficially engage with contentious social and environmental issues.

Genuine engagement requires a fundamental change to the previously unchallenged organizational hierarchy and power structures. It demands dialogic skills which many employees, managers and leaders lack.

There is no one definition of employee activism and no single organizational response. How activists influence and organizations engage with them is a function of personalities, individual and collective experiences, perceived pressures and an organization’s political and speak-up culture.

It is also a matter of how in-touch leaders are with experiences outside of their own, often privileged, perspective.

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