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Politics is a sensitive subject, and all of us have had arguments over the dinner table at one time or another. But in today’s climate our disagreements seem to be getting ever more polarizing and divisive.
In fact, according to one recent study, Americans’ political affiliations today are an even stronger component of their identities than “race, religion or ethnicity.” And in recent years, the number of Americans describing themselves as “moderate” has declined.
Politics can impact the workplace, too. Who would have thought even a few years ago that a post on an internal company message board could make international news? But that’s what happened at Facebook, when an employee criticized the firm for being a “political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views.” And Facebook is not the only tech giant roiled by controversy and debate over politics.
But while Silicon Valley is always a good source of headlines, the emphasis on one area can divert attention away from our vast and diverse nation, which is home to many different industries and many different viewpoints.
20% of Americans want political discussions censored at work
So what about the rest of us? How do we feel about politics in the workplace? Is there too much? Too little? Can holding the “wrong” opinions damage careers?
In fact, it seems that for a sizeable minority of people, there is too much of it. Recently Indeed surveyed 2,000 US employees to gain a deeper understanding of their attitudes to politics in the workplace.
The US is a country with robust free speech traditions, but when it comes to sharing political beliefs at work, 1 in 5 (20%) actually want more censored environments and say politics should not be discussed at work.
“Houston, we have a problem.” Or do we? Let’s take a closer look at our results.
23% of Americans feel political groups are being silenced in the workplace
Of course, the First Amendment protects citizens against only the government’s attempts to impede their free speech, not the private sector. In most states, if you work for a private company, you can legally be fired for political acts or statements. Companies are entitled to place restrictions on the political expressions of employees at work.
That said, while 20% would like to see a prohibition on political discussions, we are not yet at crisis levels: over half (54%) of those surveyed are comfortable with the current amount of sharing of political beliefs at work.
Meanwhile, there is relatively little appetite for more politics at work. Only 10% of our survey respondents say they believe the workplace has become too politically silent and that there’s too much censorship.
As to whether companies are actively preventing or closing down political discussions, many American workplaces apparently remain open places: controversies in Silicon Valley aside, more than two thirds (67%) feel that political groups are not being silenced in the workplace.
However, almost a quarter of respondents (23%) disagreed and felt that groups were being silenced. This, in turn, is…
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