SR: It's more than just responsibility to the environment and customers. What about us?
The recently attended a workshop on B Corp certification to investigate the "what about us?" question. I was happy to find out that the impact assessment questionnaire that those seeking certification were required to fill out addressed questions such as workers' environment. Of course, physical safety is a significant consideration, and, thankfully, psychological safety is beginning to get attention as well.

In my experience as a quality professional, I have seen the good, bad, and ugly of how we can be treated by our employers and peers, from "finding and fixing the problem" (hero, firefighter badge) to "saying stop, we have a potential quality problem here" (not a team player, naysayer, whistleblower). (Henry Lindborg's excellent QP articles on ethics and integrity speak to me.) My experience says the firefighter is still preferred over the prognosticator of a potential quality problem, one that may take years to surface in public.

The continuing news about Theranos and Boeing make me empathetic to the ones who said or perhaps tried to say, "I think we have a potential quality problem here". Why does society only look for whistleblowers only after a tragedy?

So, two thoughts regarding "what about us?":
  1. Does social responsibility need an even stronger position on employees' psychological safety?
  2. Does the definition of quality need to also consider worker safety -- physical and psychological -- of the people creating the product/service?
On the latter question, I believe that a significant part of the current worker-shortage problem in some fields is a workforce that saying "no thanks, I'm not doing that job, not for that pay, and not for that environment". Workers, or lack thereof, are implicitly part of the definition of quality. It may satisfy a consumer need, and it may be of six sigma quality, but workers don't want to do it.
1 Replies
Amanda Foster
664 Posts
Fascinating questions. I am going to have to do a little research and contemplation before answering these. A situation I am facing at work falls right along these lines (though not to the degree of the ones you mention like Theranos and Boeing) and this is a great prompt for me. Thank you!