From the lawns covered with signs and negative TV advertisements to the name calling and social media dialogues, it’s safe to say we’ll all be glad when the election is over next week. Based on the split of republicans and democrats, I am fairly certain that half of the people will not be pleased.
The results of Tuesday’s election will impact how we do business, and as a business leader, I am often asked to get involved with campaigns, donate money and take a stand. I could probably influence some of my co-workers, customers and community, but I choose to not outwardly promote my political views. I don’t think it’s good for business because odds are 50 percent of my co-workers or customers are likely to disagree with my view, so why create a conflict?
I was recently reminded how sensitive politics can be when we moved to our new headquarters and the large video display in our lobby was turned to Fox News. In very short order (less than 24 hours), I received feedback – both for and against the television channel selection. As a result, we no longer broadcast news in our lobby, which is too bad.
Politics in the Workplace
So given that situation, you can probably imagine why we paused for a moment when we received a call from our local chamber president asking if we would host Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for a visit. The purpose was to demonstrate a successful development project in our local community, and Marco was one of a few businesses that could serve as an example. Personally, I support elected officials visiting our facility. However, considering that she is a former presidential candidate and in the midst of a heated congressional campaign, we knew this could have the potential for political controversy.
We decided it would be a good idea to host her and her staff to tour our new corporate workplace and meet our employees. There was no campaigning or “issues talk” and the only feedback I received was that it was “cool” that she stopped by – given her position in Congress and political notoriety.
Be Mindful of Your Actions
These instances – and others – reminded me that as a leader, I don’t feel it’s in our organization’s best interest to outwardly pick sides and you should be mindful when mixing business and politics.
As an example, when it comes to social media, I’m very careful about when I click the “like” button on any post or page that is politically motivated. In my position, I also get invited to many campaign fundraisers – by valued customers, colleagues and friends. Although I choose not to attend, I often make a personal contribution.
All that being said, political decisions are important to our business; therefore, we are financially supportive and actively involved in local and state chambers of commerce. We feel they do a good job collectively representing business interests.
On Tuesday I will cast my vote and pick sides in support of my personal and business views. Although all of Marco’s employees won’t vote the same, we encourage – and expect – everyone to vote. You’ll find me early Tuesday morning with my red “I Voted” sticker, reminding others to make sure their voices are heard, too.