Following the #MeToo movement, respect at work – or a lack thereof – is a huge talking point inside and outside of the workplace. The business case for creating a culture of respect speaks for itself. Hundreds of high-profile people, from politicians to celebrities to CEOs, have made headlines thanks to accusations of harassment against them. And this endemic lack of respect goes further than sexual harassment. As many as 75% of employees have experienced or witnessed workplace bullying, costing companies an estimated £18.9bn per year.
Given this, you would think that creating an inclusive and trustworthy culture, where people feel psychologically safe to speak up, is a commercial priority. But many organisations are still driven by a climate of organisational fear and anxiety.
Trust and Technology
Creating excitement about winning together, rather than a fear of losing face, is key to building a trustworthy culture. Technology can help; it accelerates our ability to trust. A new trust framework is emerging, fuelled by social, economic and technological forces, that is profoundly changing not just how we are trusted in the world, but how we view trust in the world. Look at our willingness to rent a room in the home of a stranger, our enthusiasm to share a car with another rider whom we have never met or how we are increasingly finding our future life partner through an app. It’s a trust shift that is opening the doors to new ways of designing systems that is changing human behaviour on a large scale.
However, I would argue that the onus is still on us, as humans, to decide where and when to place our trust and in whom; man, woman or machine. As HR professionals, you need to get ahead of the curve of this shift. You need to drive a fear-less culture that enables us to feel mutual trust and respect, that encourages a shared ability to accept responsibility and that promotes the desire to reflect on how we work together and the consequences of our actions.
It is only then, when we allow our humanity to shine through this lack of fear, will we mitigate the risk of the tidal wave of #MeToo hitting the Boardroom.
Tracey is a trusted adviser on ethics and integrity for boards and senior leaders and has deep consulting and transformation experience.
As CEO of her advisory business, Intelligent Ethics, Tracey is passionate about helping leaders define and embrace what ‘doing the right thing’ means to them using behaviours, culture and trustworthiness as critical levers for change and placing customers and citizens at the heart of decision-making.
Tracey is also a leading voice in the analysis of the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Digital Technologies on ethics. She works with organisations to help them better understand and prepare for the consequences of technology on corporate governance including the impact on leadership and accountability, decision-making, integrity and use of good judgement that will position digital as a force for good and deliver a positive societal impact.