Workplace Activism

 


Ever been trapped behind a corporate desk wondering how to reconnect with your dreams of fighting for global justice? Ever wanted to turn the grey frustrations of professional life into something of meaning and wider value?


 

If so, you’re not alone. Right now, millions of us are stuck in offices around the world, wishing we were doing something more useful with our time and energy. We feel ethical dissonance everywhere: why do bosses and colleagues seem so disengaged with the systemic impacts of their jobs, companies, and industries? How can extreme poverty still exist in a world where, every day, the private sector wastes such astronomical sums on absolute bullshit? And what, as ‘insiders’, can we do about it?

 

This project is an open, collaborative attempt to address such questions. Our Workplace Activism Handbook, below, contains practical advice on how to use the unique powers of your professional situation to maximise your positive impact. Collated from the long-term volunteer efforts of countless ‘workplace activists’, it runs through real-world examples of what we’ve done (…and failed to do), and offers specific suggestions you can try in your office – spanning everything from fundraising and finding allies to whistleblowing and challenging company policy.

 

 

Our thinking is grounded in a hard-headed view of impact, focusing on how to ‘scale up’ our actions. Why just cut your own carbon footprint when you could switch your entire office block to run on renewables? Why settle for giving a slice your own salary to charity when you might be able to redirect massive sums from the company foundation as well? Why let evidence of systemic corporate wrongdoing lie unloved in the archives, out of reach to all but a select few?

 

Many levers of change can only be accessed from inside the machine. But you don’t need much power or seniority to set things in motion – we know this from experience. Please tell us about your own situation too: we’re all learning together, and the info below will be updated and improved over time. There are millions of us who care – imagine what would be possible if we collaborated en masse, sharing strategies for change and supporting each other as humans? Workplace activists of the world, unite!

 

‘True revolutionaries do not flaunt their radicalism. They cut their hair, put on suits, and infiltrate the system from within’ | Saul Alinsky, 1971

 


Workplace Activism: Handbook

[*UNPUBLISHED DRAFT*]

(ask me before sharing!)


1. Actions

Checklist: ideas for your office

—Key initiatives in brief

 

Redirecting corporate money 

—Charity budgets

—Philanthropic networking

—What on earth is CSR?

 

Challenging company norms

—Asking the right questions

—How to amplify your voice 

—Solidarity & workers’ rights

 

Radical actions 

—Whistleblowing 101

—Infiltration & leaks

—Going out with a bang

2. Strategy

How to make friends and influence things

Alliances: finding peers who care

Who (and what) drives policy?

Getting leadership on board

 

Why ‘cause selection’ matters

Maximising real-world impact

Estimating the immeasurable

 

Some human-level considerations

Might I get fired? Risk appetite

Sleepwalking vs. evildoing

Keeping your soul intact

 

Workplace activism in wider context

It’s not new: past successes

Bullshit jobs: we are the 37%

Where could all this lead?

3. Next steps

Get started: workplace resources

Email templates, presentation scripts, etc

Other organisations to have on your radar

Finding other workplace activists (we can help!)

 

Learn more: books, videos, etc

Read: Graeber, Kellaway, TJN, Bader, etc

Watch: Alinsky, Enron, Judge, Oswald, etc

Motivate: compendium of corporate fuckups

 


***********

(Get in touch for the full draft!)

***********


ROUGHS, LINKS, ETC

 

 

 

 

George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and global improvisation. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them.


Recently I’ve worked long-term for Darbar, Guitar World, and Ragatip, and published research into tuning and John Coltrane’s raga notes. I’ve written for Jazzwise, JazzFM, and The Wire, and also record, perform, and teach in local schools. Site menu above, follow below, & get in touch here!

everything here will remain ad-free and open access