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Poll of UK workers shows: political debate belongs in the workplace

The business website Raconteur has polled 1,000 employees in the UK on their preferences surrounding the topic of political debates in the workplace. The survey's key finding is that two thirds are very or somewhat comfortable with discussing politics at the office. Megan Reitz of Oxford’s Saïd Business School attributes this to recent changes in attitudes to workplace norms: "Over the past five years, there has been a big push from organisations to enable employees to speak up and bring their whole selves to work".

What is more, respondents showed an increasing appetite for their CEO to speak up about politic issues. This tendency is most pronounced in the age group from 18 to 24 (44%) and declines steadily in older cohorts. On the issue of CEO activism, the magazine quotes N. Craig Smith, a business ethicist at INSEAD business school, who stresses that business leaders should nevertheless tread carefully in public debates: "You certainly don’t want [them] speaking out on every issue that arises. That would be distracting from what they’re supposed to be doing and, probably, neither appropriate nor helpful".

Raconteur cautions against bans on political statements and conversations in the workplace, which have in the past been used by employers to prevent divisions within their workforce. Given the attitudes of younger workers, the publication recommends"[t]eaching employees the skills to engage in constructive dialogue with those who hold different opinions" to encourage a productive integration of political debate into the workplace.

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