Culturati Live: Politics at Work

A keynote conversation from Culturati Summit 2017

We wouldn’t ordinarily have programmed a talk on politics, but after the last presidential election, it became obvious that our country’s political divide extended into the workplace.

Leaders are asking themselves, “How do we address it? . . . Do we address it?”

Reports of employees unhappiness, even resignations, because of hurt feelings or feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered politically, convinced us to invite CEOs, Chief People Officers, government liaisons and even a political analyst to address the issue to kick off our 2017 conference.

There is consensus that employees must feel empowered to bring their full authentic selves to the workplace. And, we are reminded that the values, practices and rules we have in place (or should have in place) in our culture should prevent political discussions from deteriorating into divisive, accusatory arguments. Instead, within the right culture, diversity of political beliefs can become a strength, as is diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

Watch the full conversation:

Highlights:

  • [5:30] Matthew Dowd: “I don’t think the country is going to allow people to be on the fence . . . I think not taking a stand may be as risky as taking a stand.”
  • [7:55] Kelly Newman Mason: “From the employer side, I feel like I can’t take a stand, I have to be a safe space for all our employees regardless of what perspective they are coming from.”
  • [12:00] Gerardo Interiano: “The double standards sometimes created . . .we have to have an equal measuring stick, if we’re going to allow someone to cross the line in one direction, we have to allow it in the other direction as well . . . diversity of thought. It’s naïve for us to believe that politics don’t impact us in the workplace.”
  • [13:40] Matthew Dowd: “We’re in a moment that we’ve never seen before . . . companies and many people . . . have not come to terms that there has to be discovery of a new way of doing things.”
  • [24:55] Peter Zandan: “Is the workforce, the workplace a sleeping giant when it comes to politics?”
  • [30:00] John Gilully: “We have to be able to have a conversation about politics, about political matters, detached from your own personal emotion. Because we’ve gotta be able to understand and articulate what the influence of a particular administration or transition in power has on the environment in which we operate or in which our clients operate.”
  • [37:38] Kelly Newsome Mason: “As the workplace gets more politicized, it will also become more polarized.”
  • [39:30] Brett Hurt: “If you want a great company culture, you better have an authentic work environment . . . where people can speak up with respect and really say what’s on their mind.”
  • [48:30] Carla Sublett: “You have to dissect it . . . you have to know your values as a company so it becomes less about pro-Trump or anti-Trump.”
  • [50:30] Lori Knowlton: “Creating a community within your workplace is what culture is all about, and that community respects diversity, whether diversity of gender, diversity of race or diversity of political beliefs . . . Zero tolerance for discrimination, zero tolerance for harassment, zero tolerance for retaliation.”
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