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Leon Kaye headshot

Speak Up on Social and Political Issues, Employees Tell the Boss

A new survey concludes that workers believe business leaders should be speaking up about the most contentious social and political issues here in the U.S.
By Leon Kaye
political issues

In case the recent spate of police shootings, violence against Asian Americans and the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin have not made it clear to business leaders, a recent survey that queried more than 8,000 employed adults concludes that executives are in a good place when it comes to speaking up about the most contentious social and political issues here in the U.S.

Six in 10 employees said they want their companies’ senior leadership and CEOs to take a stand, according to a CNBC/Survey Monkey poll completed last month and announced on Friday. In a challenge to the long-held assumption that politics should stay out of the office, about the same percentage of employees (61 percent) say they feel comfortable sharing their political views with their colleagues.

Not that corporate leaders necessarily agree with these sentiments: The higher up on the org chart, the more reticent an employee was to say that political issues and topics like social justice should be part of any public dialogue, according to the survey.

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Some of the demographic gaps in how employees feel about corporate activism aren’t surprising. Ethnic and racial minorities feel more strongly about such views than whites, women more so than men, and younger workers are more open to having a vocal CEO than their older colleagues.

Despite what may appear to be tension across the U.S. workforce, the data also shows that overall people are largely satisfied with their employment situation. Well-paid for their work? Done. Career advancement? Not bad — 6 in 10 feel confident about future prospects. The same goes for questions about how employees feel about being valued by colleagues, autonomy in doing their day-to-day tasks, and whether they feel as if they are doing meaningful work.

The difference, however, is that if employees feel as if their companies are making progress on the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) front, they then feel better about their work. If their employers are viewed as laggards on DEI, the CNBC/Survey Monkey survey data suggests they also feel less positive about their pay and future opportunities for career advancement.

“Just 60 percent of workers who think their organization isn’t doing enough in the realm of diversity and inclusion say they are paid well for the work they do, compared with 80 percent of workers who think their work is doing about the right amount of work on DEI and 82 percent of workers who think their company is doing too much to address DEI issues,” the survey’s authors wrote.

The return to the office vs. virtual debate and DEI may not intuitively seem related, but given the concerns many workers have about returning to the office in a post-COVID world, now would be the time for companies to ensure their workplace culture is one that makes everyone feel included and valued.

“As a new generation of workers assume leadership positions, executives would be wise to ensure that their place of work is welcoming to people of color. This is the time for businesses to ‘build a different corporate culture,’ and ultimately, one that suits a more socially aware younger generation,” said Malia Lazu, a lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, during a recent discussion with Forbes’ Ellen McGirt.

Image credit: Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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