EP 28: Leading by Speaking Up When the Stakes are High with Author Tiffany Bluhm

activism leadership Jun 04, 2021

Toxic cultures–at home, school, work, in faith communities–make it incredibly hard to do the right thing.

Choosing to risk your reputation or livelihood when you want to move from being a bystander to standing up for what is right is a bind too many face when they want to say ‘no more’ to abuses of power.

Yes, we need to move beyond being passive bystanders and be better allies. Yet I want to acknowledge that the stakes are high in moving from bystander into the spotlight.

It is challenging to speak up when the safety and livelihood of a bystander are pitted against standing up to abuses of power.

The fear of retaliation or becoming a target of abuse is real. So is lack of trust that speaking up will impact change.

Being a bystander and watching harm being done to someone takes its own toll on your health and your confidence when the culture you are in supports secrecy and silence.

My guest today is deeply committed to changing the impact of the bystander effect.

She is calling on leaders to shift organizational cultures of all kinds so bystanders feel empowered to speak up instead of staying silent and colluding with toxic work environments.

Tiffany Bluhm is the author of Prey Tell: Why We Silence Women Who Tell the Truth and How Everyone Can Speak Up. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and co-host of the popular podcast Why Tho, a show answering the existential and nonsensical questions we ask ourselves. As a minority, immigrant woman with an interracial family, she is passionate about women’s equality, justice, and dignity.



Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Tiffany made the choice between her convictions and her loyalty in speaking up
  • Why race, class and culture impact who we believe when they report harm
  • How leaders create cultures of secrecy and silence, and what they can do to cultivate safety and accountability
  • The co-evolution of purity culture, rape culture and white supremacy
  • Steps we all can take to become better allies and dismantle cultures of silence and complicity

Content Warning: This episode includes discussion on the impact of sexual assault and rape culture.

Learn more about Tiffany Bluhm:

Learn more about Rebecca:




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