Your Company + Talking Politics = Bad Idea

For better or worse, 2010 is an election year. That means that senators, governors, congressman, judges, etc will be elected in November. If history is any indicator of the future, there is probably a 30%-50% chance that you will actually vote. In the instance that you are of that active voting group, voice your political opinion and advocate for the ideas and laws that you believe in. However, if you are a small business owner or you are the founder of a startup, do so with caution. Business and politics don’t always mix.

There are two areas in which you must stray from demonstrating your political leanings:

1) Any Media Visible To Customers

Customers buy from you because you provide a great product/service, you offer great pricing rates or you provide convenience in the purchasing decision. They DO NOT buy from you because you voted {insert political party here}. As obvious as this point may be, be sure not to ever demonstrate any of your political leanings through press releases, web images, public statements, interviews, etc. For those customers who are deep-rooted in their political beliefs, learning about your company’s position can be a game-killer. That being said, just be cognizant of your messages and be sure to keep everything non-political.

2) Discussions with Employees or Corporate Partners

Office conversations (“water-cooler talk”) can often lead to employees sharing personal stories, details and experiences with one another. This allows everyone to build real relationships with each other beyond the workplace. However, it also becomes critical to avoid political conversations, especially if you are the boss or founder of the startup. Why? Because discussing politics, like religion, can be a troublesome thing. Here are a couple reasons: 1. People often view your political beliefs to be linked to your motives, education, values, etc 2. Employees who are serious about politics can change their view/respect for you based on your politics.

What do you think? Do you agree with my opinion that politics in the workplace doesn’t mix? Personally, I am obsessed with politics. I know it, I study it, I love it. However, in my company, it is not talked about to customers, partners or internally. How do you handle it? Do you think I am wrong? I would love to hear your opinion on this issue. Comment below and let’s talk about it.

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