Q&A: Aligning Personal and Corporate Political Beliefs

Q. I’m graduating in May and hope to join an enlightened company that matches or at least accepts my political beliefs. Is that realistic these days or should I try to avoid it all together? -KG

A. There probably is no better time to set a career goal that doesn’t necessarily conflict with your political beliefs. Even though I wrote 11 years ago that it was the perfect time to get involved in politics, I was thinking of political engagement outside the workplace. The game has changed considerably today as brands and corporations are taking stands on social and political issues like never before. Some are doing so reluctantly, while others are truly committed to a wide range of issues.

In the past, corporations relied on the political action committees (PACs) to channel donations to candidates and issues that they felt supported their goals. Driven primarily by their own employees, an increasing number of CEOs are no longer remaining neutral when it comes to once-avoided political hot potatoes. Case in point: Georgia election law changes.

Adweek’s David Kaplan writes an insightful article this week on this topic, quoting Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnefeld about the dramatically increased interest in political and social issues by major corporations.

Referring to the return of the “corporate statesman,” Sonnenfeld cites the wide array of issues getting C-suite attention, including gun control, immigration, climate change and LGBTQ rights.

The increasing visible nature of these positions within companies makes it easier for prospective employees to assess whether they will feel more at home at one firm or another. Most positions are evident on company websites or press statements. By the way, you’ll be able to find companies on either side of major issues and a lot of firms still trying to avoid taking a stand.

No matter your political persuasion, try not to wear it too much on your sleeve, especially during job interviews. You need to understand that not everyone in the organization shares the same points of view as you or the CEO.

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