• Career Center

    Do Political Opinions Matter When Choosing an Employer?

    By | April 10, 2017

    We’re in a weird space these days. The country is remarkably polarized when it comes to politics, and it’s said personal relationships have a lower chance of succeeding if the parties aren’t on the same political page. Yikes. 

    So how do you navigate this landscape in the workplace, especially if your views are in the minority at your firm?

    This is such a thorny issue it’s hard to talk about. Some people will just go about their business, pay little or no attention and not participate in any conversations. Others will silently fume. Still others internalize their feelings. And then there are those who’ll state their opinions, no matter whether they’re politically correct in the particular environment.

    The best tactic probably is to keep your opinions to yourself, but sometimes that’s impossible. The whole topic can leave you wondering whether it’s time to look for a new job. That may, in fact, be the best option in some circumstances.

    We talk a lot about how firm culture has an impact on your work-life. Subjecting yourself to an environment that you find “toxic” because of your political viewpoint can be debilitating to your work performance and your emotional health. You’re the only one who can decide if it’s time to move on.

    Say you do decide to actively pursue other options. How can you tell whether a new firm will be a better match? Here are a few hints on what to look for:

    • If there is a TV in the reception area, what channel is it tuned to?
    • Is the reading matter in the reception area slanted one way or the other?
    • What screen savers do the people you’re interviewing with have on their screens?
    • Personal photographs of particular candidates/elected officials in their offices?
    • What is posted on their personal social media?
    • Are they wearing political pins on their clothing?
    • Do you have a gut feeling the firm is/isn’t a good fit?

    None of these hints are foolproof, but these and other observations during an interview should give some guidance about the firm’s political leanings–and whether it will be a better fit than your current firm.

    • peakfreak

      If you discuss politics at work, you’re tacky and no one likes you. Appropriate topics for work chit chat include, and are limited to: Sports, Traffic, and the Weather.

      • N.E.R.D.

        And casual weekend plans.

        • Lunch Man

          …and food.

          • peakfreak

            Sadly, food is a risky subject unless you enjoy discussing gluten intolerances.

      • Big4Veteran

        …and work.

    • N.E.R.D.

      Part of being an adult is learning how to handle having a political opinion different than other people.

      • Big4Veteran

        Or learning how to not talk about politics (or religion) in business settings.

    • dumpus

      I respect the fact that people have opinions but I don’t necessarily have to respect the opinion itself, the person who has the opinion, or the thought process that generated the opinion.

      There are three types of opinions; 1) an opinion i agree with, 2) an opinion i disagree with but can understand/appreciate the fundamental basis upon which it’s built, and 3) opinion that’s stupid because the person is stupid.

      1 and 2 can be dealt with in a professional, mature manner.

      With regards to the workplace, if you’re working for a political organization or a company that deals in health/human services or other public sector areas, I would expect to see visual clues that have a political tilt, because at the end of the end of the day what happens in your local or national legislature/executive/judicial branch has a material impact on the organization. If your organization is agnostic towards politics, yet there is still heavy tilt towards one side of the political spectrum even outside of the local norms just for the sake of planting a flag, walk away; your organization is short-sighted and fails to made objective decisions.

    • Non_chargeable

      Stick to sports, weekend plans, and other non-risky topics when the partner is around (or a senior manager for that matter).

      If your out having drinks with other employees who are not on your engagement team then feel free to talk about whatever you want.

    • Big4Veteran

      A couple thoughts re: public accounting…

      1. I always found it fascinating to see partners and senior managers/directors “living” the firm values by promoting diversity, tolerance, reason, minority rights, womens’ rights, etc. at work… and then they go home and proudly vote for Republicans and Donald Trump.

      2. I have so many fond memories of partners lecturing all the staff on the engagement about their Republican (i.e. correct) views on some political issue that had nothing to do with the audit. And then if I post something liberal on Facebook, these same people lecture me about being too controversial or saying unpopular things.

      • N.E.R.D.

        1. That means they are actually a good boss and can separate business from personal beliefs.

        2. The will to power knows no political affiliation.

      • sludgemonkey

        Feeling a bit judgemental, are you Big$Veteran? I believe in following the law, something that Obama and his cronies found to be limiting…..or did they? It appears they covered up more shit than Waste Management.

    • Big4Veteran

      “If there is a TV in the reception area, what channel is it tuned to?”

      In other words, if the TV is tuned to Fox News, that’s a pretty good clue that the powers that be are right-wing assholes.

      • Foxworth Crane

        Someone in the lunchroom always turns the channel to Fox News. So I keep turning it to MSNBC.