In my last blog I talked about how to address freedom of speech in the workplace when there is an undercurrent of race relations. I also included three video examples of Trump supporters behaving this way. However, to be balanced, I want to continue to talk about the impact of politics in the workplace and use examples of Hillary Clinton supporters behaving badly.
I’m sure some of you are wondering: Why blog several weeks after the election? I’m blogging because I believe there will be another round of protests and the same types of situations will occur as we approach Inauguration Day.
Over the last few weeks there have been multiple stories about Clinton supporters reacting poorly and violently towards Trump, his election and his supporters. Here are three:
- In the immediate days following the election the country watched as night after night protesters took to the streets, with some deciding violence through rioting was the answer.*
- The day after the election, the CEO of Grubhub sent an email to his staff stating anyone who voted for Trump should resign; the announcement quickly went viral. He later said his words had been misconstrued.
- Closet Trump supporters are now publicly stating they voted for President-elect Trump, which in some cases, has resulted in the disintegration of both personal and professional relationships. And let us not forget about the name calling on both sides. Most recently, a man was attacked and choked on a New York subway for wearing a “Make America Great” hat.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Have a system in place with guidelines for instances in which an employee(s) will be requested to resign. Coach your Executive and Management Team on the process and indicate this type of request should be discussed at senior management level prior to speaking with the employee. Announcements such as the one from Grubhub could easily result in employee claims of being forced to “resign under duress.” Additionally, there’s a chance that a poorly handled situation could go viral which would precipitate a public relations nightmare followed by an impact on company revenue.
- Hold a “town hall” meeting in which Leadership reminds everyone about the company’s Code of Conduct regarding professional conduct in the workplace. Then segue into a discussion on inclusion and tolerance in the workplace. Also, outline consequences should the process not be followed.
- Meet with any employee(s) who may have been subjected to this type of behavior; conduct an investigation, and take disciplinary action if warranted. Document all actions taken. Should the incident escalate into a hostile work environment claim, you will have support for the steps the organization took to remedy the situation.
- Finally, review your dress code policy and if it doesn’t do so already, consider including a section on logos in the workplace. Your workplace may not be the place for garments that make political statements.
A difference of opinion in the workplace can be a good thing when there are ground rules for dealing with differences. Situations like these handled with little thought can be your worst nightmare. As for the Grubhub CEO’s comments, not only did the email go viral, the backlash was immediate and included calls for a boycott, and the stock dropped.