PURPOSE

Speak Up was created by Animah Kosai to break the silence on wrongdoing within corporations. This is your chance to speak up and be heard.

On this Speak Up platform, you can:

  1. Learn about how speaking up can save lives and reduce business risk through our articles.
  2. Share your own Speak Up Story as a way to create awareness.
  3. Read other Speak Up Stories from around the world.
  4. Become a Speak Up Champion as a regular contributor sharing your expertise.
  5. Contact us for talks, media appearances, written pieces and advice.

Why is Speaking Up Important?

Since I became active on LinkedIn in 2017 and wrote about the Volkswagen and Deepwater Horizon catastrophes, people shared their private stories with me. Some stories shocked me as lives were at stake.

  • Stories of safety violations and threats against the people who tried raising them.
  • Stories of fraud and the sheer disempowerment of people in audit and compliance to act.
  • Stories of sexual harassment by people in high power dynamics forcing the harassed person to stay silent.

All these happened in the work space. These people tried to do the right thing but were let down by people who were supposed to protect them. HR. Legal. Compliance. Management. In some cases, pressure was from clients or funders. If we raise this, we will be branded trouble makers and lose clients.

I founded Speak Up to Bridge Corporate Leaders and their Employees

When I talk to directors and senior executives, I sometimes feel I am in different world. They believe that their well publicised “Stop Work” policy means that anyone on a rig will immediately press the Emergency Shut Down button. They believe that a person who is sexually harassed will immediately go to HR and the system will work. They believe that a young auditor who detects a suspicious transaction will immediately raise the red flag and her boss will bring it to the Audit Committee. Think Tesco and possibly Carillion.

It’s nice to feel that the company you run is perfect with no problems. And for as long as you brag about this, no one will dare tell you the truth or raise reports which will shatter your A score. Even your managers may know of problems but they dare not be that messenger that tells you the harsh truth.

We need to look perfect because we need to keep our stock price high. How do you tell analysts and shareholders that you failed the meet the revenue or sales targets? How do you explain that your stellar safety record has dropped? And when managers and employees bonuses are also tied to these almost impossible targets, a complicit company wide silence emerges. Think of Volkswagen. There were no external whistleblowers. Wells Fargo fired those who spoke up.

And when the sh*# hits the fan? What do the leaders say? I had no idea. Nobody told me. The verdict’s still out on Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn. Two of his senior executives sit in US jails. Yet mostly this is true, the big bosses are not aware of the climate they have created.

Image from EY Asia Pacific Fraud Survey.

Did you know the more senior the executive, the less likely they are to speak up. CEOs! Your C-Suite are more likely to stay silent. As I have said before, if the Director of the FBI felt this pressure, then I’m sure most senior executives are.

The fear and distrust is real. At all levels.

This is why independent whistleblowing hotlines are so important. 60% of fraud reports are from anonymous sources.

Through this Speak Up platform, I want the corporate world to know that most of these corporate scandals that hit them could have been resolved early, if people had felt safe to speak up. Because your people did know.

How do we get CEOs and Boards to know? We tell them! But we can tell them through big numbers. It’s safer that way and they don’t feel threatened because we tell them through generic stories.

Share Your Stories!

I invite people to contribute their stories here. It’s anonymous and you don’t include real names.

In your story include:

  1. The issue you want to speak up on. It’s up to you how much detail you want to include and you can be general and just say “procurement fraud”.
  2. Your attempts to speak up or why you did not. Perhaps you feared losing your job or were threatened. Perhaps you were afraid no one would believe you, or you had no trust in the company. Explain what happened in the end. Many of the people who have shared with me so far, said they left out of frustration. These organisations lost talented people who cared but were not given the space to make things right. Some people were fired and one sued – successfully. But that took years, money and determination.
  3. Category for example fraud, safety violation or sexual harassment.
  4. The industry and your designation.
  5. The country where the issue arose.

Your story will appear on Your Speak Up Stories.