Want To Ignite Change At Work? How To Do It Without Alienating Coworkers

September 5, 2017

How to Ignite Change at Work

The average American spends more time at work than any of their counterparts in the industrialized world. Faced with a statistic like that, it’s no wonder we put so much time and energy into cultivating office friendships, finding common ground with our supervisors, and trying to make work a healthy and happy place to be.

That said, building a safe and warm work environment isn’t always the easiest of tasks. If you’re looking to enact change in your workplace, consider taking a stand on one (or more) of the following three issues:

How to Battle Sexism

While sexism in today’s work environment isn’t quite as blatant as it was 50 years ago, it’s still undeniably present. Many women still experience subtle forms of sexism on a daily basis, whether it comes in the form of being interrupted during meetings or being expected to pick up cupcakes for the next office birthday.

Of course, dealing with this sexism can be incredibly tricky. Though publicly calling out instances of sexism is always an option, you may choose not to for fear of backlash. In those cases, trial and error are the key to figuring out how best to stomp out misogyny in your workplace. Here are a few things to try:

  • Educate coworkers and superiors on the benefits of women in the workplace. For instance, companies with the highest percentages of female board directors outperform those with the smallest percentage by up to 66 percent.
  • If someone says (or does) something sexist, ask them if they would have said (or done) the same thing if you were a man. You can ask this question in a non-threatening way, but the point that you were being treated differently should stand.
  • Women are far more likely to be interrupted when they speak in professional meetings. If this happens to you, remain calm and measured, but just keep talking. Do not stop talking until the other person does. If this isn’t your style, have a friend close by who will interrupt the interrupter.
  • There are three ways to avoid being saddled with “office housework.”
    • Feign ignorance, “Sorry, I don’t know how to make coffee,” or “I wouldn’t know how to tell a good cake from a bad one,” or “I have terrible handwriting, you don’t want me taking notes.”
    • Suggest another (male) coworker take on the task. “I didn’t bring my notebook to the meeting, but I see that Trey has his.”
    • Never volunteer. Every time you offer to make coffee or organize the party, you miss an opportunity to listen to and contribute to the conversation.
  • If you’re experiencing sexism, overt or subtle, keep a detailed record of every episode and the actions you took. This will be helpful in the event that the situation escalates and you need to go to HR.

I’m well aware that standing up to sexist coworkers and supervisors is easier said than done. However, if we fail to confront the issue head on, the situation will never improve. We have to fight for a better future — Generation Z is counting on us.

How to Encourage Charity

United States citizens are no stranger to charity. In 2014 alone, over 25 percent of Americans volunteered at least once during the year — and that number soars to nearly 40 percent among college graduates. That being said, getting your coworkers to volunteer can be like pulling teeth. This is unfortunate for many reasons. Volunteering provides your company (and coworkers) with a number of benefits, such as giving back to the community, strengthening relationships, and building new skills.

If you’re looking for a way to inspire your coworkers and managers to get involved in charitable causes, consider the following:

  • Get permission to start a committee that oversees and organizes charitable causes and volunteer opportunities.
  • Grab other employee’s interest by appealing to their altruistic nature. Explain how you want to make the world a better place, but that you need their help to make your dreams a reality. Make sure they realize that their involvement really matters.
  • Present employees with a variety of volunteering opportunities they might find interesting. Arrange a mix of short and long-term opportunities to ensure everyone is included.
  • Incentivize employee volunteering by turning it into a competition with prizes, or simply acknowledge each and every volunteer with a thank you card.

When companies come together to help improve their community and the lives of others, they prove to potential clients and customers that they truly care — and that’s something that money can’t buy.

How to Lead an Eco-Friendly Initiative

When businesses go green, they not only have a positive impact the environment, they have a positive impact on the bottom line. According to a 2015 Cone Communications Study, 91 percent of global consumers expect companies to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. 84 percent of those same consumers seek out responsible products whenever possible. Luckily, there are several easy ways to encourage your fellow employees (and hopefully the company itself) to go green.

  • Get permission to start a committee that oversees and organizes eco-friendly initiatives within the company.
  • Do your research and put together statistics regarding the company’s imprint on the environment, including energy efficiency, paper consumption, and recycling. Share your findings, as well as proposed long-term goals to make a positive change, with superiors and coworkers.
  • Ask other employees for suggestions on how to meet specific goals, such as reducing trash or cutting energy consumption.
  • Implement a recycling program!
  • Ask for paid time to teach fellow employees about global warming, energy efficiency, and recycling. Include ways to incorporate green actions into everyday living.
  • Send email bulletins sharing information on how to be more eco-friendly at work and in everyday life
  • Make workplace sustainability enjoyable by turning it into a competition. Have prizes for the winners, or donate money to a charity of their choice.

Unfortunately, it can be slightly difficult to encourage coworkers to be more eco-friendly without coming across as preachy. In order to avoid stepping on toes, remain calm and non-confrontational, and stay off the soapbox. It’s all about the baby steps.

If you put your mind to it — and enlist the help of a few friends — you can make a real change in the lives of everyone you work with. Whether you choose to battle sexism, volunteer your time, or champion eco-friendly causes, you’re sure to show your superiors that you’re not only a go-getter, you’re invested in the future of your company.

Have you tried enacting change at your workplace? 

Also by Liz: No Makeup Isn’t The Only Path To Self-Love. Why Full Makeup Makes Me Happy

Related: 4 Health-Sabotaging Workplace Habits to Break in 2017

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Liz Greene is a makeup enthusiast, rabid feminist, and an anxiety-ridden realist from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her latest misadventures on her blog, Three Broke Bunnies


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