Let’s look at a few examples from the past.
BP’s historic oil spill in the Gulf Coast in 2010—the largest oil spill in U.S. history—could have been prevented, employees warned. An employee who worked on the well warned BP officials that their plan to expand the well increased the risk of leaks. He even questioned their methods and asked them to change the process, but executives didn’t listen. In the end, the weakened well leaked more than 4.9 million barrels of oil.
Equifax: Months before the credit company’s data breach that compromised the personal data of 145 million Americans, a security researcher warned the company that it was vulnerable to a large-scale attack. The researcher scanned servers and public-facing websites and discovered customer personal information was easily accessible. Equifax didn’t take any action, however, until after the hack took place.
Here is a link to other examples of companies that failed because they did not listen to that one voice which was different.
And let’s come to the present – If we had listened to the black voices right at the beginning, the world would be a much different place. Isn’t it sad that we actually have to say it aloud – ‘Black Lives Matter’?
One can even say that our history has been defined by people who all think alike. Do you believe WW1, WW2 would have happened if the majority of the people had not believed in it – consciously or unconsciously does not matter. There had to be some unity of thought for such big scale events to happen.
Do not get me wrong. There is a place for consensus – otherwise, nothing will get done. But there is a difference between getting alignment and listening to different opinions. We usually jump to the alignment piece even before we have heard all voices – the tiny voices are the ones that need more attention.
And why look at history or past examples – let’s examine our present. Some voices are not getting heard or not being truly listened to – Greta Thunberg. What she is saying is contrary to common opinion. Some people ignore it (well, she is the only one; how can she be right?), or she is a child – what does she know. And statements like this prevent us from seeing reality. And there are ample signs that point to the truth of what she is saying (Apparently, Margret Thatcher also voiced climate change as a problem but was ignored).
Think about recent floods in Europe or the fact the snow in the Alps is red-blood in colour. In summary, the reason is that the algae that live in the snow release a red pigment to protect themselves from overheating – a clear sign of global warming. Here is the link to the actual article. I believe that there is no time to ‘offset’ carbon footprint anymore. We have to stop; otherwise, we will become a dystopian society.
Now, more than ever, we need different opinions – we need to listen to people who do not think like us. A problem cannot be solved by the people who created the problem (they are too invested in it) – we need somebody who can zoom out. But even more important, we need to hear them first – truly.
Will you amplify a voice that is small or different? Or will you suppress them by ignoring them? If we listen to those who are different, maybe we still have hope.