Politics in the Workplace: How Can Managers Keep the Peace?

In an age of increased polarization in which political ideology and identity have become intertwined, workplace political discussions may be more common, but they can have detrimental outcomes. At Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange company, the hesitancy of CEO Brian Armstrong to make a public announcement in support of Black Lives Matter following the death of George Floyd resulted in employee walkouts. Later, in September 2020, Armstrong announced a new policy prohibiting social activism within Coinbase and subsequently offered severance packages to employees unsatisfied with the company’s apolitical mission. Coinbase ultimately lost 60 employees — 5% of its 1,200-employee staff — as a result. At the software company Basecamp, internal discussion about a list of “funny” customer names sparked political discussions about diversity, inclusion, and tolerance. Disagreement between employees and a cofounder regarding the severity of the situation resulted in a similar ban on workplace political discussions. In response, nearly 30% of the company’s employees chose to leave. 

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