Behavioral and data scientists with the UK’s Banking Standards Board (BSB) recently authored an article discussing the idea of a ‘voice climate’ within UK financial institutions — an idea usually discussed in terms of colleagues feeling able to “speak up” in an atmosphere of “psychological safely” when they have concerns or contrarian ideas they’d like to express.

The BSB’s 2019 Employee Survey canvassed 80,000 employees across 29 firms, seeking to discover the types of concerns that employees wished to raise, how they sought to do so, and how satisfied they were with subsequent outcomes. While a third of respondents said they had at least one concern they had wished to raise in the last year, nearly a quarter elected not to do so.

Previous BSB research shows that people remain silent for two principal reasons: fear and futility. Employees are unlikely to speak up where they are worried about retaliation or peer ostracism. Nor will they want to risk that downside where there is no upside to be expected. Many believe that their opinions will be neither valued nor acted upon.

Firms must address these trust factors if they wish to cultivate a voice climate that helps to mitigate conduct risks.

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