Politics at Work: What You Said and My Analysis

internal communications survey

By Paul Barton, ABC

Internal communications professional are decidedly not conservative in their politics, most believe disclosing their politics could harm their careers, and most do not favor company policies banning the discussion of politics in the workplace. Those were the clear trends in the online Internal Communications and Politics Survey we conducted recently. Although only a handful of you participated in the anonymous survey, we suspect the results would not change much with greater participation.

Our survey respondents identified as being either Liberal or Other. No one in our survey identified as being conservative and no one thought many of their colleagues were either. Those findings certainly mirror my own corporate experience. I have worked for six Fortune 500 companies over the past 20 years. Five of those companies were in Arizona, known to be a very conservative state, and at least two of those companies are in industries considered by most to be conservative, that being mining and nuclear power production. And yet, I have known very few internal communications professionals who openly identified themselves as being conservative.

That holds true for internal communications professionals that I know outside of the companies I worked for as well. I suspect there may have been a few closet conservatives here and there afraid to reveal their political beliefs because they believed doing so might be a CLM (career limiting move). Although I have known many internal communications professionals who openly identify as being liberal, our survey results clearly show that non-conservatives feared that they too might experience harm to their careers by revealing their political beliefs. The detailed results are shown in the charts below.

The impetus for the survey was a report I read in World at Work’s Workspan Weekly that cited a recent survey conducted by Korn Ferry Hay Group. That survey showed that in the politically polarizing climate we find ourselves in, 58% of employees believe that disclosing their political affiliation at work could negatively affect their career. Our survey showed an even greater concern than that.

Regardless of how they identify, all of the internal communications professionals I have known over the years have not let their political beliefs unduly influence their work. Being the knowledge-seeking professionals that we are, internal communicators can put together a sterling defense of their business or industry and, at the same time, acknowledge areas where their organization and industry sector need to improve.




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