, Why Political Diversity Matters in the Workplace

Although many companies have faced increased pressure to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, a lack of diverse hiring teams, limited recruiting processes that fail to reach a broad candidate pool, and unconscious similarity biases have contributed to many companies’ continued struggle to improve diversity in their workplace. Some businesses, however, have come up with ways to combat these issues such as seeking top talent in non-traditional spaces, such as professional clubs and organizations that cater to underrepresented groups, and using blind testing to limit unconscious recruiting bias. 

Why Diversity Matters

Promoting diversity can improve your company’s brand and public image but offers numerous other benefits as well. For example, more diversity can result in increased employee engagement and reduced turnover, as employees who feel included, accepted, and valued are happier and more engaged. A study by Deloitte which reported that inclusive teams outperformed their less inclusive peers by 80% in terms of business performance shows that there is a significant business case for diversity as well. 

It’s clear that diversity should be something that businesses are thinking about, but what does diversity look like? While people typically think of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, these may not be the only areas of diversity where businesses are falling short. Recent complaints from conservative employees about liberal bias at their companies suggest that there may be a lack of political diversity in certain industries as well.

Political and Ideological Diversity

So is political diversity really an issue in some industries? We aggregated data from the political donation information to see how businesses from different industries and categories stack up in terms of political diversity. Here’s what we found by looking at some of the bell weathers across a variety of industries:

While Wall Street has a reputation for being a bit on the conservative side, these banks are highly politically diverse with almost all firms hovering around a 50/50 split between the two parties. 

Let’s take a look at the Fortune 500:

While these companies are less politically balanced than the wall street banks, they have decent political diversity with a high representation of both political parties.

Here’s the breakdown for large technology companies in the US:

All of these featured tech companies are predominantly democrat, which suggests a significant lack of political diversity in the tech industry. IBM has the most political diversity, but there is still nearly a 70% liberal majority.  

Lastly, let’s take a look at growth-stage technology companies:

These high growth companies show extreme political homogeneity. The most politically diverse company here is slack with still over 90% of the employee population reported democrat. Two of these companies, Etsy and HubSpot, lack republican representation entirely. 

So What?

While larger companies and wall street banks see a mix in the political leanings of their employees, high growth businesses and tech companies appear to have a significant lack of political diversity. Republican representation is particularly lacking at these companies. 

This data suggests that both well-developed and high growth tech companies have a long way to go in terms of political diversity. Improving political diversity in these industries is important because having such political homogeneity can be isolating for the few employees who do have differing views. These feelings of isolation can lead to unhappiness and hurt your employer brand. Also, employees with different political affiliations may have different approaches to problem-solving, allowing them to offer some invaluable insights. Ultimately, talented people come from all backgrounds – this includes racial, ethnic, and even political backgrounds. Allowing for diverse perspectives can help your business thrive.

What This Means For Company Culture

While you should keep political diversity in mind when thinking about diversity as a whole at your business, supporting political diversity should never be taken as support for any form of intolerance or discrimination. No matter how your employees vote, your company’s ultimate goal should be to foster a culture of respect and inclusion by acknowledging an individual’s right to his or her own opinion while also ensuring that all views that are expressed are respectful of all people.

Overall, HR and executives alike should strive to create a workplace environment where people are treated as equals regardless of their differences, be it their race, gender, or even political affiliation. By encouraging a variety of views and backgrounds at your company, you can help foster a community based on mutual respect of others.

About the author: Phil Strazzulla is passionate about educating the HR ecosystem about everything talent acquisition.  He began his career working in early-stage investing at Bessemer Venture Partners before getting his MBA at Harvard Business School, which lead him to the HR industry

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