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Sometimes, a single topic can dominate your office's discussions. Now that topic happens to be politically charged, with the U.S. House of Representatives voting to impeach a sitting president, marking only the third such occasion in U.S. history.
Many business owners don't mix business and politics, for obvious reasons. But according to recent data, mixing the two is precisely what a lot of your employees want you to do. In early December, the Illinois Technology Association, a Chicago-based trade organization, released results of a survey it conducted on political discussions in the workplace. While the sample size was small--fewer than 100 respondents--the results are still intriguing. Fifty-three percent of tech executives surveyed said they won't open dialogues at work about the 2020 election. Meanwhile, 43 percent of tech employees surveyed said they want their employers to take political stances, both in general and specific to individual political events.
The split in opinions is perhaps unsurprising, given the nature of U.S. politics in 2019. It suggests, though, that some of your colleagues may be champing at the bit to talk about impeachment this week--and for you to start talking about it too.
But should you?
The answer, of course, isn't quite as simple as yes or no. Some companies and CEOs have embraced politics in the workplace to great effect. Patagonia, for example, has become increasingly vocal about its political stances in recent years--even endorsing two congressional candidates in the 2018 midterm elections--and business has boomed. The retailer hasn't released revenue figures, but in March 2017, CEO Rose Marcario said her company was approaching $1 billion in annual sales.
It helps that taking a strong stance on certain political issues has become part of the Patagonia brand. If you've never introduced politics into your company, diving straight in can be deeply jarring. Two years ago, Tucson-based restaurant Cup It Up closed permanently after a political Facebook post written by two of the business's owners led to threats of boycotts and violence. That same year, a White House photo opp sparked boycotts, savage Yelp reviews, and angry Facebook comments for Dave's Soda and Pet City, a small chain local to Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Another risk if you decide to proclaim a stance on an issue or candidate: Taking half-measures may do more harm than good. In September, Inc.'s sister publication, Fast Company, revisited Nike's big Colin Kaepernick ad a year after it aired. The story's biggest observation: "Brands who don't back up their purpose-filled advertising with actual action risk getting significantly burned."
It's interesting food for thought, so I'll open this up: Have you made your political views known in your company? Or has your company taken an official position on an issue? If so, what happened? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and your thoughts could be featured in a future edition of the Inc. This Morning email newsletter.