May 21, 2021
Today I am very honored to have
Nuala Walsh join me on the show. You have heard her voice before as
she was part of the contingent that came on to discuss The
Global Association of Applied Behavioural Scientists or GAABS
when it first launched in the fall of 2020. In addition to her work
to get that started, she is the founder of a consultancy called
MindEquity, which specializes in reputation communications,
conduct, culture and behaviour change. She is the former chief
marketing officer at Standard Life Aberdeen and also previously
worked at Blackrock, Merrill Lynch, and PA Consulting. In addition
to her consulting work and research (some of which we discuss
today), she is also the vice-chair for UN Women (UK), a member of
the Inclusion Advisory Board at The Football Association, on the
Gender Taskforce at World Athletics, and more.
Nuala is a smart person doing
amazing things to be sure and also just a wonderful human. She was
kind enough to be a guest lecturer in my Internal Communications
and Change Management course at Texas A&M talking about how to
apply behavioral economics into mergers and acquisitions. It was
truly a fascinating discussion the students loved. Today we are
talking about some research Nuala conducted that ended up as an
article in the Harvard Business Review. This research is about
blowing the whistle at work and she has made some really important
— somewhat surprising — discoveries and
- [00:07] I’m very excited to introduce you to
Nuala Walsh, to share about the behavioral science of standing up
and blowing the whistle at work.
- [01:02] In addition to Nuala’s work to get
GAABS started, she is a founder of a consultancy called MindEquity
which specialized in reputation communications, conduct, culture,
and behavior change.
- [03:45] Nuala is a repeat guest on The Brainy
Business podcast. She made her first appearance on the GAABS
- [04:22] Nuala shares about her background and
who she is.
- [05:46] She does a huge amount of work for
sports in the discrimination space. The purpose is to level the
playing field for athletics.
- [08:01] Nuala shares how she got into the
diversity, equity and inclusion space.
- [09:47] Nuala shares her experiences working
with the UN women’s Association, World Athletics, and Football
- [12:38] Melina reflects on a point from Jon
Levy’s interview: in business, most hire for competence first, then
honesty, and benevolence at some point. Benevolence is actually
- [14:13] Diversity starts with actually hiring
diversity (not just have them included in the slate of
- [15:09] One thing that companies can do is to
listen to the recruitment agencies. The change really starts at the
- [16:54] Companies should take the outside view
and listen to the other groups that have independent objectivity
more than themselves.
- [19:02] Nuala shares her research about
speaking up at work when seeing wrongdoings. Too many people
witness the wrongdoing and stay silent.
- [19:56] Her work really focused on how to get
bystanders to act.
- [21:17] 82% of whistleblowers suffer
harassment. 60% of those lost their jobs and 17% lost their homes.
10% of those people attempted suicide. That is a high price to pay
for speaking up.
- [23:47] In her study, only 10% of people even
took the first step of figuring out how to report the
- [26:14] It is only estimated that 1.4% of
employees blow the whistle and actually do
- [28:24] With a zero-tolerance policy people are
not going to be very keen to speak up.
- [31:34] The thing that struck Nuala most in her
studies was the number of people that found whistleblowing as an
act of courage.
- [33:41] If somebody prevents some kind of
disaster you can make a hero out of that story and celebrate them.
It recognizes their work without putting anyone else at
- [34:51] When the environment changes, like
working from home, people are more likely to report something (or
at least say they will)
- [35:21] Using the courage stories as
evidence-based tracking is key.
- [38:38] Melina shares her closing
- [40:11] Melina’s first book,
What Your Customer Wants and
Can’t Tell You is
officially available on Amazon, Bookshop, Barnes &
Noble, Book Depository, and Booktopia.
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