It's a great honour to be named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
Everyone has their own opinion of who this prestigious honour should be awarded to.
But this year, it's not one person. It's a representation of many people.
It's a representation of fear that has been keeping many silent for so long.
It's a representation of the fear of retaliation, of being blackmailed, being fired from jobs someone can't afford to lose.
It's a representation of companies that set aside the importance of creating harassment policies, anti-retaliation policies, and whistleblower policies to another day.
It's a representation of a tone from the top that for many has taken it's own path that leads away from those who really need it - employees.
We've seen plenty of whistleblowers come forward individually over the years. Some have had movies made about them. Most have lost their jobs, suffered extreme retaliation. Had to completely re-write their lives.
But when many voices come together, like we've seen over the past number of months, you start to see a cultural shift.
Almost every day, we a CEO fired, a TV personality shamed, a director disgraced.
These silence breakers have started a revolution of not backing down.
They are breaking new ground on being heard over the noise of retaliation.
And because these silence breakers are well known personalities, their voices are enabling other voices to be heard.
"When movie stars don't know where to go, what hope is there for the rest of us? What hope is there for the janitor who's being harassed by a co-worker but remains silent out of fear she'll lose the job she needs to support her children? For the administrative assistant who repeatedly fends off a superior who won't take no for an answer? For the hotel housekeeper who never knows, as she goes about replacing towels and cleaning toilets, if a guest is going to corner her in a room she can't escape?"
How can companies promote a speak-up culture?
One of the most important ways to gain employee trust is to act quickly as soon as a complaint has been recorded. By responding and acknowledging the complaint shows that an organization is serious about the effort the employee has taken.
Investigate the Complaint
Whether a small infraction or a serious accusation, an organization needs to initiate an investigation. Getting to the bottom of an issue quickly will help determine if an issue can be handled in-house, or if outside counsel needs to be involved. Neglecting more serious issues could lead to serious civil or criminal liability issues for an organization.