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Jan_Brewer - politics in the workplaceArizona is no stranger to controversy. More often than not our state seems to find itself in the midst of a controversy and this past few weeks have been no different.

Unless you haven’t turned on your television or listened to people’s conversations in the office or on the street as of late you’ve heard about troubles surrounding Gov. Jan Brewer, our state government and the recent controversial anti-gay law that was vetoed. People everywhere were up in arms about the whole situation, some taking to social media and even the streets to defend their beliefs. Whether you agreed or not, everyone was talking about it in their homes, with their friends and even with their co-workers.

But with all the conversation around this issue, it got me thinking. Is there a place for personal beliefs and politics in the workplace or should these types of topics be left outside of the office?

Though some workplaces have specific policies on talking politics and personal beliefs in the workplace, many rely on the boundaries of professionalism. But given the nature of politics, most employers would encourage political discussion as long as the workplace is comfortable for everyone and mutual respect applies.

So, how can you make sure political discourse or thoughts on personal beliefs don’t go too far?

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Remember everyone shares their own personal thoughts and values. While you may not believe in them or agree, each individual deserves to be respected.
  • Have a political policy in place to avoid things getting out of hand. Some businesses prevent employees from using email, computers or other company property for political activity during work hours.
  • Remember your employees aren’t the only ones affected by political discourse in the workplace. Your clients and customers can also become affected and get involved.

For me, talking about politics or personal beliefs at work almost feels taboo, and I usually try to avoid it. But I am curious of what you think? Does your place of work have a policy on discussion controversial issues or politics? Or does your office encourage these types of discussions?

Katie Snyder
Katie Snyder
A former HMA Public Relations employee.

1 Comment

  1. Alison Bailin says:

    My personal viewpoint: As someone who not only likes – but loves – to live life as an open book, I really struggle with not sharing…everything…all the time. I am firm in my belief that to understand why someone does what they do, you need to make an effort to understand where they came from and what brought them to the office doorstep. That being said, 99.9% of the time, I refuse to post on anything even approaching political online, anywhere, anytime. My one recent exception was this bill. It was also one of the few times everyone in the office made clear their beliefs and feelings on such a politically driven topic in the workplace, at least ours.

    In the workplace, I think it is important for people to state their boundaries clearly and at the onset of the business relationship, taking into consideration that others in the office want to respect their wishes, but aren’t mind readers and don’t know what those wishes are. If there is not official section of one’s handbook addressing it, I believe that those make their feelings clear early and often.

    We are all just crazy little snowflakes – all different, all pretty cool, all from different places and all going in different directions.

    My professional viewpoint: In working with several law firm clients over the past 10 years, I can say, while federal law doesn’t prohibit companies from discriminating based on political affiliation or discussion of it or beliefs in the office, some state laws and local ordinances do. Employers need to understand the legal ramifications of politics and political discourse in the workplace. There are steps management can take to ensure workplace compliance through election seasons and during hot-button topics revolving around politics and beliefs. Our friends at Quarles & Brady are always there to assist in any of these types of needs. http://www.quarles.com 🙂

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