The market research firm Morning Consult recently asked 220,000 Americans which company they'd be the proudest to work for. While the study has few surprises, there is one anomaly that's worthy of attention.

Without getting into the methodology, surveys like this are more a measure of brand familiarity and product attractiveness rather than an informed desire to work for a certain company.

For example, the number two firm for men was Harley-Davidson. It's likely that most of the men who chose that firm were thinking employee discount on a cool set of wheels rather than the company's decadelong series of layoffs.

Similarly, when women rated Hershey's number seven (it didn't even make the top 10 for men), I suspect they were envisioning free samples rather than the company's widely criticized use of child labor to harvest cocoa beans.

Anyway, the most consistent winner of the popularity contest was Google, which was the number one choice overall as well as the number one choice regardless of sex, education level, yearly earnings, or national geography.

In other words, Google "ran the board" of this popularity contest with only two exceptions: Republicans, who rated Google number three, and Baby Boomers, who rated Google number seven. What gives?

Well, if you look at their top 10 choices, Republicans and Baby Boomers tend to favor traditional manufacturers like Harley-Davidson, Lockheed Martin, John Deere, and Boeing, all of which are notably absent from the Democrats' and Millennials' lists.

Similarly, Democrats tend to like disruptive innovators like Tesla and Netflix, neither of which made the Republicans' list. Same thing with Millennials, who liked YouTube and Netflix, neither of which made the Baby Boomers' list.

So perhaps the best way to characterize this cultural divide is that young progressives tend to look to the future when envisioning a place to work, while old conservatives tend to look to the past.

Which, I suppose, isn't all that surprising.

Published on: Jun 13, 2017
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