But speak-up systems in organisations must do more than just exist. Successfully embedding a speak-up system takes careful planning. Critical to this are good communication and an ethical workplace culture built on trust.
Encouraging speak-up in the workplace
Communicating and promoting speak-up requires constant work and commitment. Companies that do this well work hard to reinforce speak-up messages in a variety of ways, incorporating these messages into everyday business activities, and treating speak-up communications like any other internal communications campaign. Success also requires the commitment of senior management who should be seen to reinforce speak-up messages on a regular basis.
Good communication is a key pillar of effective speak-up. However, if stakeholders lack trust and worry how they will be treated for raising concerns, it will not serve its purpose. Establishing an ethical company culture which promotes trust between stakeholders is therefore vital.
Webinar replay: Embedding an effective speak-up culture within your organisation
Building an effective speak-up culture
What does it take to create the right speak-up culture? Many of the ingredients that contribute to a good speak-up culture are also the essential elements of an ethical workplace culture.
Speak-up and culture are intrinsically linked. Through our assessments using the GoodCorporation Business Ethics Framework, we know that the extent to which employees feel able to raise concerns is one of the best indicators of ethical culture. Organisations with a real commitment to encouraging staff to speak up are more likely to identify problems early, address them and so avoid a crisis.
GoodCorporation’s 2020 survey on workplace culture, saw a rise in the number of workers feeling comfortable about raising an issue of poor or unethical behaviour (up from 59% in 2017 to 64% in 2020). We also saw an increase in the number feeling that concerns would be dealt with fairly and that they would be properly protected when speaking up.
Organisations that successfully implement an open-door culture that promotes speak-up will strengthen the relationship and trust between management and staff, leading to greater motivation for staff who feel valued and listened to, and improved risk management.
A comprehensive study on whistleblowing in European companies