Professionally speaking, the situation in which people decide not to express their ideas about organizational problems leads to the phenomenon which Morrison and Milliken have termed ” Organizational silence ” that prevent organizations from hearing their employee’s voice and employee choose to withhold their opinions and concerns about organizational problems. Organizations are demanding more and more from their employees today namely, taking initiative, speaking up and accepting responsibility because of more intensive competition, higher customer expectations, more focus on quality indicating a constant world of change. In order to survive organizations need individuals who are responsive to the challenges of environment, who are not afraid of sharing information and knowledge, can stand up for their own and their team’s beliefs. A number of research questions have been generated dedicated to answering why employees make the decision to be silent; what types of issues employees are likely to be silent about and how organizations might surmount this problem. Silence atmosphere have some negative consequences on organization’s ability to change and development in the context of pluralism. Well-run, high-risk organizations have nailed this by creating a climate of directness. They make clear that anyone can voice a good observation or idea independent of his or her position in the hierarchy.

What we are talking of is a psychologically safe workplace. “Psychological safety at work takes effort. It’s not the norm. But it’s worth the effort,” says Professor Amy Edmondson.  She explains how and why a culture of open candor—and the willingness and courage to speak up —is a strategic asset and can be developed in companies of all sizes. Michael Leiter’s (2013) book, Analyzing and Theorizing the Dynamics of the Workplace Incivility Crisis states about workplace aggression. His book is grounded in empirical psychology pulling together insights from cognitive and social psychology, exploring the emotions and behaviors of the aggressors, the bystander, and targets of incivility alike. In this framework Leiter stipulates that three conditions must be adhered to in order for a workplace to operate with some semblance of civility. : 1) creating a psychologically safe workplace, 2) using reflexivity in one’s own behavior, and 3) supporting shared efforts for a broad impact. Leiter examines incivility using the Risk Management Model as a theoretical framework for understanding issues that surround both the group dynamics and the individual psychology of incivility. He uses the Risk Management Model of workplace treatment to provide context in understanding why workplace incivility takes place, how detrimental the emotional impact can be, and what fallout of workplace incivility typically looks like. He starts with the notion that people  want to feel part of a social group and the power of the group is one of the themes that underpins the whole volume–the sense of belonging that individuals seek within workplace settings and its obverse, the alienation that group members fear. Leiter touches the concept of interactional injustice which is defined as “mistreatment that occurs in the course of workplace relations between employees and one or two authority figures with whom a reporting relationship exists”. The sense of injustice can arise when an individual experiences incivility or a threat to their identity within a hegemonic relationship in the workplace. Leiter links this concept to incivility by noting that incivility violates the norms of the organization, where bosses behave unjustly toward their subordinates (i.e. derogatory judgements, deceptions, invasion of privacy, and disrespect). For example, an individual who experiences an invasion of their private life (i.e. asking questions specific personal questions about a spouse, the individual’s sexuality, etc.) would experience interactional injustice because it upsets the balance of power in the relationship.

The interactional injustice is felt even more so when the poor treatment goes against the norms of the organization, yet the aggressor goes without reprimand. Incivility, however, may have an influence on emotions and behavior beyond the two involved parties. Emotions’ scholars argue that when an individual experiences a sense of injustice within their workplace, discrete negative emotions are aroused, such as anger and frustration. It is these types of emotions that can socially contaminate a workplace; these emotions are easily and often unconsciously ‘caught’ by others in the organization.

There has been a growing focus amongst both scholars and human resource practitioners on the increase in uncivil behavior. Incivility has complex effects on occupational stress, not just directly causing exhaustion, cynicism and other psychological damage, but also amplified the impact of other stressors within the workplace. Incivility Crisis provides us with a meaningful appreciation of how incivility impacts the psychosocial wellbeing for individuals and how it creates a sense of injustice within their workplace. One of the corollaries of social analysis of incivility is that there is a reason beyond the impact on the individual for intervening to reduce or eliminate workplace incivility.  Apart from the performance impacts, incivility acts as a self-perpetuating cycle of deviant and negative workplace behaviors. The negative behaviors stemming from discrete negative emotions can be the seed of contagion, harming the esprit de corps of a workplace, which, in turn, can impact the productivity of a working group or the organization overall. The psychosocial wellbeing of individuals who are targets of incivility is questioned and organizations should better counter the self-perpetuating nature of an unpleasant workplace dynamic. The themes that emerge from the study of Incivility Crisis give rise to an interesting set of questions that beg not just further research but further reflection. Need of the hour is to instigate further investigation into incivility, its relationship to the experience of injustice, and the emotions that are associated with them. In other words, it is worth considering whether there is a useful conceptual distinction between these constructs, and what that distinction adds to our understanding of how to resolve such issues. This begs the question of, What kinds of scripts/schemas do the targets of incivility create in order to regain some semblance of balance within their working relationship when they feel they are experience interactional injustice? This is essentially questioning the underlying psychology of chronic victimization that might be more typically recognized in the clinical literature on physical or psychological abuse. A recent development in this line of thought has been the #MeToo movement.

When protesters took to the streets to protest the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, many of their signs bore two words: “me too.” The words were an expression of solidarity with Christine Blasey Ford, who says that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school, and with a movement that has gained nationwide attention in the last year. Founded by Tarana Burke more than a decade ago, #MeToo came to new prominence in October 2017, after women came forward publicly with allegations of sexual harassment and assault by producer Harvey Weinstein. In the weeks and months that followed, the movement gained steam as more and more Americans shared their own stories of being harassed or assaulted in the workplace by people — most of them men — in positions of power. Over time, #MeToo became a broader conversation, not just about workplace harassment and assault, but about coercive and abusive behavior outside of work as well. While some workplaces have made changes to address sexual harassment, it’s not yet clear whether industries will make the larger reforms necessary to truly keep workers safe.

“#MeToo is a movement of survivors and their supporters, powered by courage, determined to end sexual violence and harassment,” Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance said. In 2006, activist Tarana Burke heard repeated reports of sexual violence in her work with girls through a nonprofit she had co-founded, Just Be Inc. She started the Me Too campaign that year “to spread a message for survivors: You’re heard, you’re understood.” “#MeToo is the next step on what has been the long journey towards a world where everyone, especially women, can go

to work, school or pursue their life’s work in safety, dignity, and with respect, and have the equal opportunity as others to reach their full potential. Though the movement #MeToo being merely a year old, it’s not that such thoughts haven’t been penned down earlier. As a matter of fact in the month of November 1988, a post-hardcore punk band from Washington D.C. called Fugazi released a song written from the perspective of a woman who’s sick of being harassed by men in public. Singer and guitarist Ian Mackaye, who was 26 at the time, wrote the song about the experience of a female friend of his.

Why can’t I walk down a street, free of suggestion?

Why can’t I walk down a street, free of suggestion?

Is my body my only trait in the eyes of men?

I’ve got some skin. Do you want to look in?

There lays no reward in what you discover

You spent yourself boy, watching me suffer

Suffer your words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands

Suffer your interpretation of what it is to be a man

She does nothing to deserve

He looks at her because he wants to observe it

We sit back like they taught us

We keep quiet like they taught us

He just wants to prove it

She does nothing to remove it

We don’t want anyone to mind us

We play the roles that they assigned us

She does nothing to conceal it

He touches her ‘cause he wants to feel it

We blame her for being there

But we are all here We are all guilty.

It’s depressing to realize that this song was written 30 years ago. How little progress we’ve made. Coming back to #MeToo, it is nearly a year since women began to accuse the movie producer Harvey Weinstein of “decades of sexual harassment” in the pages of the New York Times – a moment credited with igniting a movement. While more and more women came forward to speak out against Weinstein’s behavior, tens of thousands of women also used social media to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault under the hashtag #MeToo. What started as a call to action by the actor Alyssa Milano, has now become a symbol across the world for women and men to rally against catcalling, unwanted attention and abuse. Created by Tarana Burke in 2006, the hashtag represents a lot of women’s daily experiences, empowering them to speak out and criticize those who have downplayed their abusive actions. The founder of the #MeToo movement has said the campaign she started against sexual violence has become unrecognizable and misrepresented as a vindictive plot against men. Burke told a TEDWomen event in Palm Springs, California, that parts of the media had framed the movement as a witch-hunt and that US politicians seemed to be “pivoting away from the issue” in the wake of events such as the controversy over Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court. “Suddenly, a movement to centre survivors of sexual violence is being talked about as a vindictive plot against men,” she told the audience. “This is a movement about the one in four girls and the one in six boys who are sexually abused every year, and who carry those wounds into adulthood,” she said. “Victims are heard and then vilified.” A survey as recent as September 2018 in Australia has shown that nearly 85% of women and 56% of men go through workplace harassment. Burke said she wanted the movement to return to the issues she set out to challenge over a decade ago. “My vision for the #MeToo movement is part of a collective vision to see a world free of sexual violence,” she said. “I believe we can build that world. Full stop.”

The Me Too movement in India is a manifestation of the international #MeToo movement. It is currently taking place in parts of Indian society including government, media, and the Bollywood film industry. In India, the Me Too movement is seen as either an independent outgrowth influenced by the international campaign against sexual harassment of women in the workplace, or an offshoot of the American “Me Too” social movement. Me Too began gaining prominence in India with the increasing popularity of the international movement, and later gathered sharp momentum in October 2018 in the entertainment industry of Bollywood, centered in Mumbai, when actress Tanushree Dutta accused Nana Patekar of sexual harassment. This led to many women in the news media, Indian films, and even within the government to speak out and bring allegations of sexual harassment against a number of prominent men. What began as one woman’s story soon became a phenomenon when names of powerful men in the country started surfacing. From actor Alok Nath to journalist MJ Akbar, the movement has brought to light many stories of sexual harassment and abuse. Trends Desk of The Indian Express wrote that many Indian men are speaking up as a part of #MeToo, including discussions about consent and how some men are also abused. Rina Chandran of Reuters said #MeToo is ignoring the 600,000 women in India who are currently sex workers against their will, and are typically poor without education or family.

India’s Me Too movement differs in key ways from the movement in the United States. The allegations against Harvey Weinstein were investigated by reliable sources in the US, while in India, accusations emerged on social media, where women posted their grievances. In addition, laws against defamation in India allow the prosecution of women who are unable to prove their allegations, with a maximum jail term of two years, while the First Amendment protects such rights in the United States. As a result, activists began to work towards strengthening the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which was implemented poorly since its establishment. As of now, the social “Me Too” campaign of India has continued to grow and be covered by major media outlets as a topic of importance, with victims outing their abusers on a nearly daily basis. The movement has since resulted in major social consequences for several of those accused, such as firing or resignation from their jobs, condemnation and disassociation from members of their respective industries, and indignation against their actions from their fans and/or the public at large. Similarly, accusers have also been the target of countersuits from the accused, even as they often have social support and added coverage from the media.

It is quite encouraging that although women from all walks of life have shared their personal experiences and have tried to uncover the demons corroding our society, but at the same time, the movement lacks internal criticism, which would have been helpful in strengthening the cause. One limitation of the movement is that it shuts itself from constructive criticism, as a result of which feminism has evolved over time due to this type of criticism. In the words of journalist Seema Mustafa, “Me Too movement needs more nuanced and richer conversations which have space for debate, disagreement and dissent. The movement needs deeper forms of engagement and a collective will to develop a self-critical discourse which can generate essential kind of intellectual spade work”. A key point of her criticism was the movement’s ‘inability to differentiate between a man who is guilty of rape and sexual assault from a man who solicited a woman with a drink, or an unacceptable text message’, arguing it offers the same ‘punishment’ for all. Mustafa has spoken of justice as a concept where an innocent man is not supposed to be framed, even if it means the guilty get away. She has rebuked the Me Too movement as “too subjective, arbitrary and without due responsibility”. Mustafa has also criticized the “mob mentality” of the movement as the accusations on social media deny the accused a proper chance to defend themselves.

In this charged environment, the question is how the response to #MeToo might actually end up hurting women’s progress. Now more than a year into the #MeToo movement – with its devastating revelations of harassment and abuse in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and beyond, men across have tried to check their behavior at work, to protect themselves in the face of what they consider unreasonable political correctness – or to simply do the right thing, and this is hardly a single industry phenomenon. Interviews with senior executives suggest that men are adopting controversial strategies for the #MeToo era and, in the process, making life even harder for women. Given the male dominance in jobs, one of the most pressing consequences for women is the loss of male mentors who can help them climb the ladder. “There aren’t enough women in senior positions to bring along the next generation all by themselves,” said Lisa Kaufman, chief executive officer of LaSalle Securities. “Advancement typically requires that someone at a senior level knows your work, gives you opportunities and is willing to champion you within the firm. It’s hard for a relationship like that to develop if the senior person is unwilling to spend one-on-one time with a more junior person.” Men have to step up, she said, and “not let fear be a barrier”.

Organizations now are more concerned towards a psychologically safe work-place. A safe environment is one where the risk of harm is minimized and employees feel secure. Harm relates  not only to dangers in the built environment, involving such matters as architecture and construction, lighting, space, facilities and safety plans, but also refers to violence, physical threats, verbal abuse, threatening gestures, sexual harassment and racial vilification. Google’s  two-year study on team performance, has revealed that the highest-performing teams have one thing in common: psychological safety, the belief that you won’t be punished when you make a mistake. Studies show that psychological safety allows for moderate risk-taking, speaking your mind, creativity, and sticking your neck out without fear of having it cut off — just the types of behavior that lead to market breakthroughs. However, ancient evolutionary adaptations explain why psychological safety is both fragile and vital to success in uncertain, interdependent environments. The brain processes a provocation by a boss, competitive coworker, or dismissive subordinate as a life-or-death threat. The amygdala, the alarm bell in the brain, ignites the fight-or-flight response, hijacking higher brain centers. This “act first, think later” brain structure shuts down perspective and analytical reasoning. Quite literally, just when we need it most, we lose our minds. While that fight- or-flight reaction may save us in life-or-death situations, it handicaps the strategic thinking needed in today’s workplace. Twenty-first-century success depends on another system — the broaden-and- build mode of positive emotion, which allows us to solve complex problems and foster cooperative relationships. Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina has found that positive emotions like trust, curiosity, confidence, and inspiration broaden the mind and help us build psychological, social, and physical resources. We become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, and persistent when we feel safe. Humor increases, as does solution-finding and divergent thinking — the cognitive process underlying creativity. Herein comes the concept of socio – technical approach.

The sociotechnical approach to organizational structure was developed in England during the late 1940s by Eric Trist and his colleagues at the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. These researchers conducted seminal studies on the coal mining industry, where the introduction of new technology had shifted the social patterns of work so profoundly that productivity and job satisfaction were negatively affected. In response, managers and workers fundamentally  reorganized their work patterns, returning to the small-team, collaborative process that had prevailed before the mechanization of the industry. In these and subsequent studies across a variety of work settings, Trist and his colleagues found that technical changes in an industry (e.g., increased automation) consistently produce profound changes in the social aspects of work as well. They became convinced that work must be conceptualized as a joint social and technical process and that the so-called self-regulating work group is the essential building block of effective organizations.

Human-factors-as-sociotechnical-interaction has a dual purpose to improve system performance and human wellbeing. System performance includes all system goals (e.g., production, efficiency, safety, capacity, security, environment). Human wellbeing, meanwhile, includes human needs and values (e.g., health, safety, meaning, satisfaction, comfort, pleasure, joy). The story of socio-technical design is closely allied with action research. This is more a philosophy than a methodology. It describes a process and a humanistic set of principles that in our context is associated with technology and change. It can be used to contribute to most problem-solving in work situations. As the name implies, the research approach has an action component: either the research is intended to lead to change in the work situation or it produces change inadvertently because the action research has taken place. The results of socio-technical design are always closely monitored and recorded to establish if it has led to both the efficient use of the technology and an improvement in the quality of working life of affected employees. This, in turn, leads to the careful formulation and testing of theoretical concepts that could provide a better understanding of the meaning of the term ‘quality of working life’. In practice, a primary objective of socio-technical projects is to ensure that both technical and human factors should, whenever possible, be given equal weight in the design process. Socio-technical design also has an important democratic component: employees who use the new systems should be involved in determining the required quality of working-life improvements.

Finally, this kind deals with practices of responsibility and accountability. Outcomes in complex sociotechnical systems are increasingly seen as emergent, arising from the nature of complex non- linear interactions across scale. But when something goes wrong, we as people, and our laws, demand that accountability be located. The nature of accountability often means that this must be held by one person or body. People at all levels – minister, regulator, CEO, manager, supervisor, front line operator – have choice. With that choice comes responsibility and accountability. A police officer chooses to drag a woman by the hair for trying to vote. A senior nurse chooses whether to bully junior nurses. A professional cyclist chooses to take prohibited drugs. A driver chooses whether to drink before driving, to drive without insurance, to drive at 60mph in a 30mph zone, or to or send text messages while driving. There may well be contextual influences on all of these behaviors, but we make choices in our behavior.

In the context, to all that has been so far shared and discussed, a few poetic lines will do no harm to the cause and will give a befitting summary.














  1. Sudipta says:

    Informative Article

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