Be an Agent of Change at Work — Escalate Issues

Yes, you read that right. Be an agent of change at work by escalating issues. I know. We have always been taught the opposite, right? We’ve been taught to “de-escalate” potentially problematic situations. After all, de-escalating calms everyone down so we can remain peaceful. You know, the “Can’t we all just get along?” approach to workplace challenges? So, when I came across a video on LinkedIn with Phil Shawe (President and CEO of TransPerfect) advocating for the escalation of issues in the workplace, I was instantly intrigued, albeit somewhat confused. But that intrigue soon led to encouragement and inspiration after listening to the entire message. 

As a woman in a traditionally man’s world, I learned early on that the best way to get ahead was to smile and agree. But unfortunately (or fortunately) for me, I just don’t operate that way. I speak up if I see or hear things that don’t sit right with me. I will not be silent on issues that truly matter, whether it be inappropriate comments, outdated policies, or inefficient processes slowing down operations. Of course, there is a right and wrong way to address issues, but we’ll leave that delicate dance for another time.

In many situations, colleagues are generally grateful to have a confident voice to represent them, and management is often open to listening and discussing. However, I’m sure many people have also had the opposite experience. The old “keep quiet, smile, and agree” attitude is sadly still quite common. Some leaders go even a little further by shaming those who speak up in an effort to silence them. So, hearing someone in such a high position advocate for “escalating” issues in the workplace truly caught my attention and inspired me to write this piece. Thanks, Phil.

Social Issues Enter the Workplace

There is no way to completely keep social issues out of the 9 to 5, especially nowadays in a very heated social and political climate. Trying to limit employee discussions to focus solely on what they did on the weekend or how the football season is going is futile and could backfire. 

When Gartner recently surveyed 3,000 employees about social issues in the workplace, the results might surprise you. Three-quarters of respondents “expect their employer to take a stance on current societal or cultural issues, even if those issues have nothing to do with their employer.”¹ The survey also revealed that “68% of employees would consider quitting their current job and working with an organization with a stronger viewpoint on the social issues that matter most to them.”²  

Welcome Feedback and Workplace Satisfaction Surveys

When TINYpulse (an employee engagement platform) surveyed managers and employees about the importance of regular feedback and the need for frequent workplace satisfaction surveys, both groups’ responses were overwhelmingly positive.

Managers Weigh In

Employees Weigh In

Data Source: TINYpulse 3

Are You an Agent of Change?

If you hold a leadership position at work, consider how you can be a force for good — advocate for a healthy, inclusive, and welcoming workplace for all. GIM can help.

GIM Content Management can work directly with you to build effective content marketing collateral and a robust multimedia portfolio that showcases your organization as an authority in your space and an agent of change.

Reach out today, and let’s start escalating issues.

If you liked this Snippet While You Sip It, you might want to check out some of our latest, including Work-Life Balance — CEOs Share Their WisdomDefending Quality Education in the Workplace, the 10 Best — and Worst — States for Healthcare, and Be an Agent of Change at Work — Escalate Issues.


¹, ² Kelly, Jack. “Survey Shows People Want to Discuss Social, Political Issues at Work and Call for Companies to Support Their Views.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 9 Mar. 2021,

3 The Science behind Tinypulse Engage.