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Walking A Tightrope: Workforce Responses to Employer Political Activism

Employees are worried about the consequences of their companies’ activism, and strongly believe in greater transparency

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In the past several years, American companies seem to have increasingly supported political causes in high-profile ways. These efforts are distinct from typical efforts to lobby lawmakers on issues relevant to their core business interests. Instead, these issues are decidedly more controversial and often related to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or environment, social, governance (ESG) efforts. Similarly, they have occurred irrespective of the causes supported: Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines bowing to activists and denouncing the Georgia voting laws and Major League Baseball relocating its All-Star Game from Atlanta, Black Rifle Coffee Company has aligned itself with Second Amendment rights, and cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has urged political neutrality in its workplace, which is itself an action of political significance.

Despite many companies wading into issues of political salience, too little research has been conducted on whether workers at politically active companies support management’s decisions in such activities and if so, which issues seem more controversial than others among the employee base.

Recently, public affairs firm JK Strategies, in partnership with TechnoMetrica,  undertook the first step in constructing a data-based portrait of how employees regard their employers engaging in such broad political activities. TIPP Poll surveyed 645 full-time or part-time employed American adults regarding their views of employers becoming involved in non-business, political/socio-economic issues that may often be contentious. A third worked in organizations employing less than a hundred people; 18% worked in firms that employed 101 – 500; and 43% in companies with more than 500 employees.

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