Freedom? Democracy? What do these terms really mean in the workplace? Well, according to the freedom-loving folks at WorldBlu, “organizational democracy” is a system that is based on freedom, instead of fear and control. It’s a way of designing organizations to amplify the possibilities of human potential and the organization as a whole. So the core of organizational democracy and political democracy is the same — allowing people to self-govern and determine their own destiny. What’s different is the context — one is in the political arena, the other is in the realm of organizations.
WorldBlu, that company we just mentioned that specializes in freedom-centered, democratic organizational design and leadership, recently named New Belgium Brewing Co. to its ninth annual WorldBlu List of Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces. The 2015 list, which is published every year on “Freedom at Work Day,” certified 26 organizations around the world.
“At New Belgium, it’s incredibly important to us that people not only love what they do, but that they love coming into work,” said Kim Jordan, CEO of Fort Collins-based New Belgium brewery, which has 620 co-workers and boasts a 97 percent retention rate. “Through our open-book management and 100 percent employee-owned culture we strive to create an environment where respect, integrity, having fun and accountability are all key elements of our success.”
The standards to get on the WorldBlu List of Most Freedom-Centered Workplaces are high and required New Belgium employees to complete the WorldBlu Freedom at Work Assessment. The survey evaluated how New Belgium practices the WorldBlu 10 Principles of Organizational Democracy, such as transparency, dialogue and listening, integrity and accountability. WorldBlu developed the survey tool based on a decade of research into what makes a successful freedom-centered company.
Organizations making the list ranged in size from five to 65,000 employees and represent more than $15 billion in combined annual revenue. For-profit and non-profit organizations from across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Netherlands, Denmark, Malaysia, Haiti, New Zealand and Romania made the WorldBlu List. Industries represented include technology, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, agriculture and services. Companies can apply after at least one full year in operation and if they have five or more employees.