Researcher investigating voice opportunities for female employees

A Birmingham City Business School lecturer is investigating why female voices in the UK’s small-to-medium size enterprises (SMEs) are seldom heard and what measures can be introduced to ensure women are able to speak more confidently.

Posted 07 March 2022

Alexandros Psychogios, lecturer a Birmingham City University.

Staying silent in work situations

The work is being carried out by Alexandros Psychogios, Professor of Leadership and International Human Resource Management.

Employee voice is a key component of a positive working environment but can only be achieved when employees have a say in the changes affecting them.

However, a growing number of studies report different rates of employee voice for men and women.

“It seems that women prefer to stay silent rather than voice their ideas and opinions, or even disagreements,” Alexandros says. “This argument is the main reason why we want to investigate women’s voice in SMEs.”

Alexandros believes that there are a number of reasons why women prefer to remain silent.

“Research has demonstrated that women are more vulnerable to unfavourable working conditions, such as pay, access to promotion, job security and discrimination, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says.

“Therefore, through our research, we will look to uncover these issues and try to understand the big picture of this phenomenon and try to enhance women participation and involvement.”

Investigating a cross-section of SMEs

Alexandros and the team will investigate the voice of women employees working for SMEs across the United Kingdom, operating in the manufacturing and services industries.

“We will aim to capture a diverse sample of women employees in terms of their ethnic orientation, age and status in the organisation,” Alexandros explains.

Enhancing women’s voice for the future

In terms of research outcomes, Alexandros is targeting four:

  • A project website, an observatory, that will disseminate knowledge, offer recommendations for new voice systems and practices in SMEs and act as a network hub for organisations interested in the research.
  • A free and publicly available report on the findings of the study that will be made available through the website.
  • A minimum of two academic publications and conference presentations discussing the study’s findings.
  • A virtual or face-to-face event to showcase the findings of this project.

“We are expecting to discover more reasons for women’s silence,” Alexandros explains.

“We will aim to explore further factors affecting women’s voice and, in turn, investigate potential ways of enhancing voice among different groups of women in companies.”

Published research in employee behaviour

Related to this work is Alexandros’ latest publication, Solidarity In Action At A Time Of Crisis, which he has co-authored with Dr Rea Prouska (lead author), Margarita Nyfoudi, Leslie T Szamosi and Adrian Wilkinson.

The research, which has been released to critical acclaim, investigates another substantial issue in organisations – solidarity behaviour.

“Solidarity behaviour among employees is important in building a sense of community in organisations, particularly within a crisis context,” Alexandros explains.

“There was limited knowledge concerning how this behaviour develops, so our study has examined how employee voice relates to employee-to-employee solidarity behaviour.”

The study extends existing knowledge in the fields of management and human resources management by advancing understanding of horizontal solidarity behaviour.

Alexandros has also recently released a book discussing neuroscience in business leadership, which has been translated into multiple languages and been updated for a new version.