Dr. Rita's Blog
"Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes." Margaret Wheatley
As a leader at work you may be wondering how to navigate political conversations, especially with this year’s election.
It’s possible we may not know the outcome of the election on election day.
And even when we do know the outcome, there’s a good chance that emotions will run high regardless of who our next president is.
So how to handle those conversations in the work environment?
We talked about this issue in last week's Executive Womens Change Leadership Roundtable.
While I’m not a legal expert, there are legal ramifications about these conversations you should be aware of.
Both employers and employees often share the misconception that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and therefore gives employees the right to talk politics at work. Not so!
The First Amendment generally does not apply to private employers. And it does not restrict private employer’s ability to curtail political speech in the workplace.
One of the things we talked about is that the chat function in zoom is considered an extension of the work place so the same policies about political conversations at work apply to zoom chat. It’s easy to overlook that because the chat is such an informal way of communicating.
It’s a good idea to review your organization’s policies around conversations that that can be emotionally charged. There’s no shortage of emotionally charged topics this year with social unrest, supreme court cases, racial justice, mask mandates for Covid-19, and climate change just to name a few.
As the attorney in our Roundtable said, “It’s best to stop political conversations at work in their tracks. Once those conversations get started, it’s much harder to get them to stop.”
For more information, take a look at this article by the law firm of FMJ: The Great Divide in 2020: How Employers Should Manage Political Conversations in the Workplace https://www.fmjlaw.com/employers-political-conversations-workplace/
According to the attorneys at FMJ “Thoughtfully crafted policies that are enforced objectively can greatly reduce the risk of political activities disrupting business operations or leading to workplace conflicts.”
If you need assistance in creating these policies or would like your current policies reviewed, contact Natolie Hochhausen at email@example.com or Shannon McDonough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
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