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Workplace Democracy, Take 2

Posted by: Jena McGregor on April 21, 2008

Back in September, I wrote about an organization called WorldBlu, and a concept known as “workplace democracy.” While that may sound like an oxymoron to anyone slaving away under the thumb of a toxic boss—or any shareholder wishing for access to a proxy ballot—WorldBlu’s chipper founder, Traci Fenton, believes it’s possible. She believes a “democratic” organization is one that has a flat organization, employs open-book management, encourages employee ownership, and at times even lets employees vote on ideas or leaders.

I’m not entirely sold that the concept has legs—far too many corporate managers would have difficulty with the voting concept, at least—Fenton publishes a list each year on companies that each pay money to apply. That surprised me, but according to Fenton, that’s the case with the Great Places to Work list published by Fortune each year, too. For what it’s worth, here’s a link to this year’s list, which includes companies ranging from Second Life creator to carting service 1-800-GOT-JUNK?

Reader Comments

Prem Rao

April 27, 2008 10:18 PM

I too wondered whether "democracy" would affect accountability. I think Tracy says the "voice" of the people who work there should be heard and taken into consideration.

It does not mean they vote on every decision.

Prem Rao

Traci Fenton

April 29, 2008 12:02 PM

Hi Jena,

Thanks for the mention about this year’s WorldBlu List of Most Democratic Workplaces 2008. I appreciated your story last fall on the topic entitled, “The Employee is Always Right” about HCL Technologies in India and how they’re using workplace democracy to build a highly effective and profitable company.

I invite your readers who may want to learn more about the 25 companies that made this year’s list, including the first Fortune 500 company to be recognized as operating democratically, to join us at the WorldBlu LIVE conference in New York City this October 16-17, 2008. There, participants will hear from the CEOs of WorldBlu List companies as well as other thought-leaders and authors who are writing about this growing movement.

Traci Fenton
Founder + CEO, WorldBlu

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