Employees Make Their Voices Known Through Petitions

By Paula Bernier

When footage came to light of Donald Trump talking about grabbing women’s private parts and kissing them without their consent, people flocked to the streets to march in protest. When President Trump signed the executive order on immigration, demonstrators likewise turned out in force to condemn the move. Turns out our new president and his administration aren’t the only ones getting pushback from their people. Many businesses are seeing it too.

Employees seem to be increasingly willing to voice their opposition when company leadership makes decisions with which they fundamentally disagree. In fact, opposition efforts by employees have addressed everything from pushing corporate leaders to oppose Trump’s travel ban, to making corporate leadership more diverse, to dropping bans on employee beards and tattoos.

IBM is one company that has experienced this kind of thing firsthand. A group of Big Blue employees have been vocal in their distaste for CEO Ginni Rometty’s open letter to then President-elect Trump and her participation in the president’s business advisory counsel. And they have voiced their displeasure. They also have used that effort to promote some of their other grievances related to diversity and business ethics at IBM.

“We are disappointed that IBM CEO Ginni Rometty's open letter to President-elect Donald Trump does not affirm IBMers' core values of diversity, inclusiveness, and ethical business conduct,” the group of IBMs wrote. “For our mutual aid and protection, we call on IBM to expand diversity recruitment programs, and we assert our right to refuse participation in any U.S. government contracts that violate constitutionally protected civil liberties. We call on IBM to demonstrate commitment to our Business Conduct Guidelines and to prevent perceived influence peddling through Trump affiliated businesses. Lastly, in the present context of insecurity and unpredictability, we call on IBM to return to our traditions of high worker retention and morale by making retirement plans equitable once again. We invite all current IBMers, former IBMers, and community supporters to sign our statement.”

Petitions have also been a means through which employees have pushed management to change their worker policies relative to personal expression through facial hair and tattoos.

For example, 19-year-old supermarket worker Brandon Wesley started a petition on Coworker.org urging people to join him in asking his employer Publix to reverse its ban on employee beards. Something similar happened a few years ago when Starbucks employees (successfully) pushed Starbucks to change company policy relative to employee tattoos.

TMCnet is working to promote improvements in the workplace and recognize those businesses that are making strides on this front. To learn more about the 2017 TMCnet Workplace Excellence Awards, visit http://techculture.tmcnet.com. We’re accepting applications for the Tech Diversity awards through April 28, and for the Social Responsibility awards through May 31.





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