The political employee

Share this post

Last week I read a post on LinkedIn that went viral about a former Facebook engineer who resigned his job for not sharing the political actions of the company. The post gathered more than 40K comments, and from the few I glanced, the one that resonated the most was “Ping me back for a talk about principles in about ten years, when you have two kids and a mortgage”. Sadly enough, this dichotomy seems to be the status quo.

We do have plenty of evidence that companies become more innovative and productive as they are more diverse and inclusive.

We do have plenty of evidence that companies become more innovative and productive as they are more diverse and inclusive. The huge progress made in tech companies adding underrepresented minorities and international professionals to their workforce clearly outnumbers other domains. Still, we don’t do it out of altruism, but as a sustainable action based on the outcomes derived from that diversity.

It is interesting then that the level of intransigency in political views is so high, that is tearing even tech companies apart. Sometimes, when we overload a system with restrictions, it has catastrophic outcomes due to adaptive behaviors. The mainstream corporate position about expressing political opinions is “keep them to yourself”. Excellent example of the underlying assumption that full compartmentalization is possible. Moreover, compartmentalizing is actually convenient. The fact is that this triggers an adaptive behavior, making political views percolate in the whole work continuum. In your opinion about who should prepare coffee after the last cup, to the way the user experience is designed, people will try to express and underlying political message. Being politically correct, after all, is not speaking about politics.

Our tools as leaders to manage conflicts beyond technical topics are rudimentary, and many times work by suppressing the problem instead of dealing with it. The result escalates to people leaving the company based on political disagreements, and a good deal of social activity associating brands more with political positions than actual products. It is more relevant than ever to acquire new means to work on a humanely integrated view of collaborators. People that bring to the table a lot of technical value, but also emotions, opinions, mood swings, friendship, and antagonisms. Not to forget our nerdy essence, some elegant weapon for a more civilized age.

Written by Patricio Maller, Organizational Humanizer.


Sign up for our Newsletter

Advice, stories and expertise about a better way to work.