Do you talk politics around the water cooler? Debate immigration? Rail about gender rights? All these conversations are important, but they can be downright dangerous at work – even during the period before you get hired. Airtasker polled over 1,000 people, 204 with hiring responsibilities and 805 employees, about the hiring process, layoffs, and coworker discussions.
What they found: Political discussion of all kinds can put your standing and even your job at risk. They are literally the last kind of views you want to express at work.
However unfairly, your views – if known – can stop your potential hiring right at the door.
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Perhaps in a search for cultural fit, hiring managers feel the need to know future employees’ stances on possibly controversial views. And they’ve admitted to not hiring those candidates based on opinions they don’t like.
Below, see 29% of hiring managers dismissing a candidate for his or her stance on racial equality, and 27% for their take on gender equality.
The dangers of social media in the hiring process
Social media is a great place to rant about politics. Unfortunately, it’s often one of the first places hiring managers go to check you out as a candidate, as 69% of them admitted. Facebook is the major source of snooping, at 91%, followed by Instagram (62%), Twitter (56%), and LinkedIn (55%).
Nearly half (48%) of hiring managers responded that they wouldn’t hire perfectly qualified candidates if they expressed strong, controversial political opinions on social media. (So set your Facebook to friends-only, and make your Instagram private while you’re job-searching).
One respondent with hiring responsibilities explained that his main reason for scouring candidates’ social channels for political talk was that he wanted everyone to get along. “I feel it is important to keep politics out of the office as much as possible. We look through prospective employee’ social media to see if they are overtly vocal and outlandish in their views, not to weed out the ones we don’t agree with. We need everyone to get along and work as a team.”
Why was I really laid off?
Forty-one percent of laid-off employees felt that their layoff wasn’t strictly about performance, but was related to their identity, beliefs, or physical appearance. According to respondents, some of them were right.
Again, the theme continues that making controversial political views on a wide scope of themes known at work can put an employee at risk – either fairly or unfairly.
For those who do engage in political water-cooler chat at work – or are simply part of a minority group – here are the percentages who feel like they’re treated negatively based on their…
- Political views: 14%
- Gender: 13%
- Race/ethnicity: 12%
- Education level: 10%
- Stance on LGBTQ+ rights: 7%
- Stance on immigration: 7%
- Stance on gender equality: 6%
- Stance on racial equality: 5%
What about us?
Since the #MeToo movement blew up in the fall of 2017, 28% of male respondents said they’ve changed the way they interact with female colleagues. The jury is still out on whether those changes are good or bad. Almost three-fourths (70%) of men said they were being more careful about what they said, which seems innocuous enough. But “avoiding interactions with women” (37%) and “avoiding being alone with women” (27%) are more problematic and prevent women from moving up in organizations.