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Cancel Culture in The Workplace - It's Not on The Internet Only

Cancel culture is an engine that is shaping change in the social media airwaves, but it is slowly creeping into the workplace. Do you want to know how?

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Cancel culture is an engine that is shaping change in the social media airwaves, but it is slowly creeping into the workplace. Do you want to know how?

Photo credit: wayhomestudio

Before we get into how cancel culture is present in the workplace, you need to understand what it means. The Cambridge Dictionary describes cancel culture as the practice of withdrawing your support of someone because you are offended by their actions or words. Social media has made cancel culture popular with global initiatives such as the #MeToo movement. Tarana Burke founded this movement that focused on giving sexual violence victims a platform to shame and cancel their abusers on social media.

So, what exactly happens when a group of people cancels you? Well, they treat you as if you do not exist. They make it their life's purpose to cut off all forms of engagement with you. They stain your social media presence, which affects how people view you in the real world. It will cost you clients and other social engagements that could have been beneficial. So, imagine how disruptive cancel culture is in the workplace.

Cancel culture in the workplace begins with unresolved issues that get overlooked for a while. Since there is strained communication, the office environment becomes hostile. Let me show you examples of how messy and destructive the cancel culture can be in the workplace:


  • An angry employee may decide to use their social media platform or a work-related chat room to address an unresolved issue with a co-worker.

  • An employer may choose to cancel an employee based on their online posts and views on various social issues expressed online.

  • An organization may decide to cancel employees who have different views from potential clients to secure them as clients.

What Are the Pros of Cancel Culture in The Workplace?

Its pros include using it to:


  1. Call out workplace bullies who use their title and powers to hurt other employees or make fun of them.

  2. Hold people accountable for their actions and behaviors. Cancel culture makes people understand that their actions affect productivity levels in the workplace.

  3. Show support for employees as they exercise their freedom of speech within the workplace. It creates a sense of liberation within the workplace.

  4. Address the effects of power imbalances in the workplace. These imbalances affect the workflow process in the office. For example, co-workers may have an issue with the company management. Since their issue is swept under the rag, they decide to take drastic measures like canceling them on social media to highlight their wrongdoings.

What Are the Cons of Cancel Culture in The Workplace?


  1. Canceling a co-worker for their posts and views on social media limits their freedom of speech.

  2. Turning to social media to air out workplace issues with your co-workers creates a toxic work environment that reduces productivity and the chances of career advancement within that organization. 

  3. Cancel culture creates a toxic work environment that affects relationships and productivity in the workplace. Additionally, it reduces morale and leads to more co-workers opting to quit.

  4. Consumers and clients are pressuring companies to monitor and punish employees for social media content that they consider offensive.


How Does Cancel Culture Apply to People Holding Leadership Roles?

As a leader, your role is to guide and be an example to your junior co-workers. Practicing cancel culture in the workplace is a slippery slope that can land you in court fighting an employment dispute. Think about the effects of your actions before you act. When an issue comes up in the workplace, your reaction will set the tone for how the junior co-workers will manage similar situations in the future. So, if you decide to jump on the cancel culture wagon, you better have your legal team on standby. 

Instead of turning to cancel culture when you have an issue with someone in the workplace, try out these guidelines:


  • Look into how you can initiate communication and reconciliation with the person(s) who has offended you.

  • If they are unwilling to reconcile, look for an independent third party who can listen to the affected parties and mediate between them.

  • Educate yourself on the laws within your country that deal with defamation. This way, you know what to post and what not to post on social media.

  • Fight the urge to follow your co-workers and employer on social media platforms. Social media has blurred the boundary between the personal and work life of employees. Following your co-workers or employer on social media is a recipe for disaster. Every time you monitor the social media accounts of your co-workers and employer, you blur the boundary between their private and work life. 


The cancel culture is effective. However, it has the potential of backfiring and damaging your reputation and the future of your career. Learn how to manage workplace issues effectively and immediately before it affects your job. Due to the power dynamics in the workplace, cancel culture rarely favors employees. This culture can only call for an investigation of the issues aired out on social media, but the last call falls on the company. Plus, this culture is more effective if it has a collective voice, not just one. 

Written by

Lilian Nerima Musonge

Nerima Musonge is a Lawyer who is passionate about Content Creation and Copywriting. She is constantly trying to broaden her artistic pursuits and find out how they can integrate with the law. When she is not squinting behind a laptop, she is mothering, cracking jokes, and living her best life

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