Blog archive


Tom Nixon

The next democratic revolution is in the workplace

Democracy is a huge theme for the world in 2011. The events playing out in North Africa and the Middle East clearly demonstrate that people want to live in a system of transparency, empowerment, trust and respect. People want to have their voice heard and their opinion counted. People want to be free.

In most Western countries, we take democratic government for granted, but most of us accept far less at work. Mission and strategy are developed in closed board rooms, and orders are handed down from on high. Leaders are not selected by the people that will work for them, and financial information like salaries are closely guarded secrets, with seemingly unfair and arbitrary systems of rewards.

But there’s a quiet revolution going on inside organisations around the world. A realisation that democratic principles aren’t just an idealist, utopian dream, or something that only applies to government and not work. The revolutionaries know that democratic principles are the very best way to attract and retain the best people, drive higher productivity, quality, customer service, profit, happiness and create a more positive impact on the world.

Whilst democracy sweeps away regimes of fear and control around the world, it is beginning to snowball into an unstoppable force within organisations everywhere.

At the heart of this revolution is a not-for-profit called Worldblu. Led by the frankly awesome Traci Fenton, its mission is to see one billion people in the world set free at work in democratic organisations. I don’t doubt for a minute that they will succeed, and thinking of the positive impact on people’s lives and the wider world that this will have is mind-blowing.

When my friend Alex Kjerulf told me about Worldblu in 2008, he suggested that NixonMcInnes take their assessment to find out how we stack up against the 10 principles of organisational democracy and see what we can learn about ourselves in order to become more democratic. So for the last three years we’ve done just that, and been fortunate enough to be recognised on Worldblu’s list of most democratic workplaces in the world alongside some fantastic companies like Zappos and Groupon. It was announced today that we’ve made the list again in 2011 – one of just three in the UK (congratulations to The Rabbit Agency and Future Considerations too.)

It’s not about the badge and we don’t think we’re anywhere near to cracking the formula for a perfect democracy, but we’re on a journey and feel proud to be part of this important movement.

If you’re curious about how democracy could help your organisation to become more successful both in traditional terms, but also happier and creating a more positive impact on people and the world, then getting in touch with Worldblu could be a pivotal moment in your organisation’s history.

This post was filed under Not for profit, Working culture and tagged , Comments are currently closed.


  1. I’m all for this, it will empower employees to feel valued in a company rather than a worker drone who clocks in and clocks off without feeling valued.

    Posted 12th April 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  2. Kevin McDougall

    Congratulations on the listing. There is a definitely a change afoot in corporate cultures around the globe. Great to see a Brighton organisation on this list. This book inspired me; Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business from the Forrester guys. Great read.

    Posted 13th April 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink