Employee activism can be a powerful force, influencing and altering policy and leadership in ways that resonate far beyond the walls of a single company.
Diversity, equity and inclusion programs are no exception. At ZoomInfo, one key example is the work of our ZoomInclusion trailblazers — team members who help launch our official employee resource groups (ERGs), which coordinate resources and community for people across the company’s departments and locations.
What is Employee Activism?
Employee activism can be defined as actions taken by employees to deal with social issues in conjunction with their workplace, both internally and within the broader society. According to the consulting firm Consciously Unbiased, there’s been a 40% increase in employee-led activism since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.
For many participants and leaders of ZoomInfo’s ERGs, activism in the workplace isn’t something they simply add to their resumes.
“For most activists, it’s not another job. It’s who they are and what they love to do,” says Cam Johnson, a sales manager and a trailblazer of our Zoom In Color ERG.
Employee Activism Encourages Diversity and Inclusion
Programs that promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace often start with grassroots activities, fueled by a passion to create a more welcoming environment and improve the lives of fellow employees.
“I can do my job, and I can sit up here, and I’m always going to be Black. I’m always going to identify as a Black man and I can tell everyone my experiences and the things that I’ve gone through,” Johnson says. “That’s activism. Trying to get better rights, more Black employees, and provide opportunities to graduates from historically Black colleges to help communities — that’s every day of my life, and what I live with.”
Programs like ZoomInclusion and ERGs help foster an inclusive company culture and send the message that everybody has a voice a support system within the workplace.
“We’re real people with real human interests, passions, and hobbies. And I think that people need to take action on those things,” says Cassie Harris, a customer onboarding team lead and ZoomInclusion trailblazer. “Companies should make sure that people are not feeling ignored, are present, and feel comfortable enough to say, ‘Hey, these are the things that are really important to me.’ Employees should get to be their most authentic selves.”
Why Does Employee Activism Matter?
Employee activism is about elevating voices. According to research by Weber Shandwick, most U.S. employees believe they are right to speak up about their employers.
Some of the main benefits of fostering a work environment where individuals feel safe to speak up are:
- Improved retention rates
- More diverse recruitment
- Positive shifts in company culture
- An increased sense in corporate purpose
- Employers who are more in touch with their workforce
When employees feel like they actually play a part in what the company does and stands for, rather than simply being cogs in a machine, they feel more connected and fulfilled in their jobs.
Let Your Employees Be Heard
As the spotlight on political and social issues grows, employees have become more empowered to speak up about the issues that affect their lives. Employee activism groups enable employees to create a safe and healthy workplace built on collective values.
“Even just small acts that help empower employees can accomplish great things. This is one of the driving forces that impacts one person, and that one person then has the ability to net out and expand that into a really awesome web,” Harris says.