Rip Red Tape received some angry criticism with this previous post on anonymity. Dozens of readers found it important that folks be able to speak their minds without consequence to themselves personally. They found it harsh that we would suggest that anonymous commentary is weaksauce.

Let’s be clear once more: anonymous whistleblowing when personal safety is in danger is 100% understandable, and commendable at that. But when a career, or reputation, or anything other than personal safety is in question because of voicing an opinion, that opinion still needs to be voiced for the sake of fairness to the argument.

Take, for example, anonymous YouTube commentators. They can say whatever they want, and as Macklemore said, “Call each other f****ts behind the keys of a message board.” The United States Air Force Academy has just alleged that cadets were making inconsiderate comments towards one another via an anonymous social media application. Anonymity is weak in these negative cases. And the same logic applies when the comments are intended to be positive. If anonymity is weak when the comments are cowardly, it’s still weak when the comments are intended to help, even if the person has a fear of “backlash.”

As leaders striving to make our workplace better, we must speak proudly for what is right on behalf of my own mind at the risk of “losing a job,” rather than continue to work at a job we find somehow unjust. When we walk past a problem and do nothing, we are part of the problem. We have to be fierce in our approach to improving our work environments, and putting our name on the line is an essential means to that end if we are to be taken seriously.


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