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How to Advocate for Change in Your Workplace



Speaking up in the workplace can be challenging. Read on to learn how you can effectively advocate for change in your workplace.

A 2020 study found that 93% of employees believe companies must lead with purpose.

But what happens when companies don’t have commitments to making positive impact or aren’t fulfilling their promises?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)--practices and policies undertaken by corporations intended to have a positive influence on the world--have dramatically increased over the last ten years. Research has found that 86% of S&P 500 Index Companies published sustainability or CSR reports in 2018, compared to 20% in 2011. However, not all of these efforts pay off. A survey published this year revealed 68% of American executives admitting their companies are guilty of greenwashing.

This is where employees can step in and advocate for change internally. From Amazon employees protesting leadership’s environmental policies to a Boeing employee raising safety concerns about one of the company’s airplanes, every employee has the potential to make a difference.

Looking to make a change in your workplace but don’t know where to begin? Read below some tips and resources to help get you started.

1. Learn the issue

The best first step is to learn about the issue you’re trying to solve. Understand its root causes so you can readily communicate the issue when the time comes. For issues related to animal welfare, you can check out World Animal Protection’s reports library and educate yourself about the wildlife entertainment industry, factory farming, and the wild pet industry.

2. Connect with other employees who might feel the same

It’s definitely not easy to “rock the boat” or have challenging conversations with executives. So, before doing that you can start sharing concerns with coworkers with whom you feel comfortable. Ask for their feedback and learn appropriate next steps from their point of view. You might also learn that they’re concerned with the issue as well and want to get involved.

3. Gather examples from past situations where employees have made positive change

It’ll be helpful to learn from others and know how employees from different companies have initiated change in their workplace. See below some examples:

4. Don’t forget to include the solutions

When speaking to your boss or the decision-maker about the issue you’re looking to solve, you’ll want to include the solutions and benefits. Don’t forget the “how” when explaining the “what”! To help with this, Harvard Business Review published a great article on the right way to bring a problem to your boss.

5. Stay motivated

Initiating change is always an uphill battle but it can be well-worth it. When you’re feeling discouraged, remember your “why” for advocating for change. Try not to stay silent as it can often lead to low employee morale and resentment. Have allies around you for support.

As author James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

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