Please Talk About Politics at Work


By Joe Kowalke

All employees at Double Forte are now encouraged to speak freely and openly about politics at work. Consider this the new employee handbook rule.

Go ahead and talk about religion, too. Please come out at work.

Let’s speak honestly about our beliefs, ourselves, and build greater understanding and compassion.

On March 3, Lee Caraher, president and CEO at Double Forte, wrote a Medium post that explains why the company won’t reimburse for Uber rides anymore. Four days later, she outlined, in a cogent email to employees, her point of view on A Day Without a Woman. In the email, she said:

One of the reasons I started the company was so I could ensure equal pay, equal opportunity and flexibility that accommodates parents and non-parents alike to participate in different activities during the workweek. These things did not exist in the companies I had worked at previously – if I was going to start a company, then it was going to reflect the philosophies and practices that I’d hoped for when I was an employee.

Lee then provided ways individuals could participate in the one-day demonstration, plus links to news stories about the day as background. As the nation has entered a new era in politics, so has Double Forte walked into uncharted territory when it comes to office culture. Before November 9, we did not openly talk about politics or religion at work, but we kind of knew where our coworkers stood thanks to social media.

Since the presidential election, we have shared our viewpoints online and in the office. We talk about gender equality, executive orders that limit civil liberties, or how we’ll no longer support corporate vendors that practice sexism. These conversations are learning moments that build trust. The process isn’t perfect, but, as Lee says, we’re willing to wade into these murky waters for the greater good and figure it out along the way. We’ve already seen these discussions strengthen our teams, and our openness around important issues has sparked big, creative ideas that have benefitted our clients.

Here are the guidelines that got us this far:

  • Listen: To learn, not reply. The best way to understand people with different points of view is to seek their perspective rather than an opportunity to retort.
  • Communicate with good intentions: Think before you speak or hit send on that email. Make sure your purpose is positive.
  • Integrity: When your values and actions are aligned.
  • Commitment: Invest in the whole person, not just the coworker. Respect where the person came from, is right now, and honor where she’s headed.
  • Ownership: The only thing you can control is yourself. Take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, words and actions. Your decisions, and the results that follow, are yours.   
  • Flexibility: Be open to new ideas and ways of doing things.

Will we go back to the way things were? Not when we can keep moving forward. Together.