Impact Thread

We put the competitive advantage in social good

Org Tension Post Election?

Since the 2016 election was called, there have been reports of organizations facing internal tension based on difference of opinions between employees or leaders making their opinions about the results known. For example, the CEO of GrubHub Matt Maloney, sent the following email to his company:

 

SUBJECT: So... that happened... what's next?

 

I'm still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.  While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior - and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination.  We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating - including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.  Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can. As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States.  If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team. I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what's right is worth it. 

 

Stay strong, Matt

 

As you can imagine, this was interpreted to mean many things, to include a vote for Trump meant one was unwelcome at GrubHub. Though Mr. Maloney clarified that is not at all what he meant, we suspect the tension was palpable.

 

Many people felt emotionally affected by the results of the election, and we do not want to minimize that. However, when it comes to social impact organizations, specifically, it is important to recognize the nearly tangible link between political tides and the work that many of these organizations are tasked with doing. With the coming and going of administrations, work is started with fervor one year and grinds to a halt in the next. Many of these orgs have a mission in which they see themselves as advocating for the voiceless, and must work in response to the people they serve regardless of governmental support (Dempsey, 2012). While GrubHub is not a social impact organization per say it is true that they, too, have a mission and have established a certain organizational culture in order to carry out that mission.

 

Culture is one of the most important factors within a successful, scaling organization and there is no question that political views can have an impact. Culture is formed intentionally, or not, and we advocate for the former. In order for employees (or volunteers) to feel high levels of trust, loyalty, belonging within an organization there must be commonalties that bind people to one another—they must hold something important in common (Greenwood, 2008). This unspoken norm can be impacted when half of the country wakes up feeling vastly different than the other half of the country. So should you wake up tomorrow and fire everyone who does not align with the organization’s majority political point of view? Not yet.

 

Diversity can be shown to lead to worse group performance but only when the group does not value intersectional understandings. If group members interpret diversity as enriching rather than threatening, group performance increases with diversity (Greenwood, 2008). 

 

Sustaining cultural diversity is important and should be intentionally done. So how do you sustain this diversity and utilize the current political climate to do so? We advise paying attention to the recurring rhetoric that nobody feels heard or seen. We think the place we spend 20-40+ hours a week is the perfect place to begin addressing this.

 

Tips:

-Hold forums: initiate intentional discussion about employee’s concerns especially as they pertain to various viewpoints with a direct effect on the work environment.  

-Leave emotion out of it. Stick to the facts. If you are able to do this with your co-workers (and everyone else!) it becomes less personal and more productive (White, 2014).

-Have an escape route. Decide in advance how to leave conversation gracefully when it becomes uncomfortable or overwhelming (White, 2014).

-Humanize everyone. People are complex and beliefs are nuances. Your organization will benefit from encouraging and instructing empathy in these situations (Hochschild, 2016).

-Consider the fundamental attribution error may be at play. In other words, allow other people the benefit of the doubt you are allowing yourself and those that agree with you. Read more about that HERE

 

Much of this starts from the top. If you are in a leadership position of any kind, we recommend starting these conversations and creating environments where people feel safe to have these conversations with you. Provide tips on how people can talk to each other about these issues and encourage the use of inclusive language. Give people a reason to unite around your mission and your company regardless of their views.

 

References

·       Dempsey, S. (2012).  Nonprofits as political actors.  Management Communication Quarterly, 26(1), 147-151. 

·      Greenwood, R. M. (2008).  Intersectional political consciousness: Appreciation for intragroup differences and solidarity in diverse groups.  Psychology of Women Quarterly, 32(1), 36-47. 

·       Hochschild, A. R. (2016).  I spent 5 years with some of Trump’s biggest fans.  Here’s what they won’t tell you. Mother Jones. Retrieved from: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/08/trump-white-blue-collar-supporters 

·       White, M. C. (2014, July 14).  How to deal if you hate your boss’s political views.  Time. Retrieved from: http://time.com/2963212/how-to-deal-if-you-hate-your-bosss-political-views/

 

What We're Reading

We are always looking for unique research findings written in approachable ways, and useful tools for our audience to utilize in their workplace. Here are a few of our recent favorites:

 

The Secret to Resilience

Resilience is a key component for thriving at work. Resilient people are more responsive and able to cope under pressure (Harvard Business Review). Check out this article about how Resilience is fostered. 

The Secret Formula for Resilience – The New Yorker

The Purpose Drivers

We believe that “purpose” is a significant driver of mission driven work. This Propose Drivers Assessment helps identify some of what drives you to do your work, and helps you define what brings you purpose.

The Purpose Drivers – The Imperative

Is Creative Work Lonely?

Does your organization require a lot of creative thinking and diverse talent? You may want to take a look at this article. A recent study published in Academy of Management reveals that people who exercise more creativity on the job seem to spend less time with their spouses, and the time they do spend with their spouses is of lower quality. This could be very detrimental for mission driven organizations and something for leaders to consider when it comes to positions demanding creativity.

The Unbearable Loneliness of Creative Work – The Boston Globe

Work-Life Merge

A term recently coined by Facebook executive, Emily White, implies that work and free time are no longer segregated, but consistently blurred together. This is a growing trend for highly productive and accomplished people: more autonomy but little differentiation between personal time and work time. Take a look at this article for more about this.

The Merge: How Our Work-Life Balance is Changing – The Guardian

 

Corporate Sponsored Employee Volunteerism: Options and Impact

Organizations are increasingly being challenged to use their resources, expertise, and insights for the good of society (Porter & Kramer, 2006). The triple bottom line has always encompassed people, planet and profit. Increasingly however “people and planet” are being brought at the forefront of this list (Spreckley, 1981).

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become an expected feature of large organizations rather than the novelty it once was (Rupp, 2011; Rupp, Williams, & Aguilera, 2010). It is defined as “actions on the part of the firm that appear to advance, or acquiesce in the promotion of some social good, beyond the immediate interest of the firm and its shareholders and beyond that which is required by law” (Waldman, Siegel, & Javidan, 2006, p. 1703).  When firms engage in CSR, it sends a signal to current and perspective employees and investors and stakeholders that the organization is healthy and will have positive future financial performance (Spence, 1973).   

Corporate sponsored employee volunteerism (CSEV) is a specific type of CSR that has been growing in popularity with large companies and organizations. CSEV is defined as formal, organized support for employees who wish to volunteer in the community (Peterson, 2003). CSEV is a great way for an organization to engage in CSR and signal to future and current employees not only how your organization value’s it’s people, but also the overall health of the organization.

 

The benefits and motivations that come with CSEV for employees can include:

-opportunities to express important values,

-learn more about the world,

-grow and develop psychologically through involvement in volunteering,

-gain career-related experience,

-strengthen social relationships, and finally, to

-reduce any guilt or negative feelings associated with working for a large corporation

 

There are two options for engaging in CSEV: Onsite Vs. Online

The scope (i.e., local, national, international) and subject area (e.g., environmental, social, etc.) can and should be different for each company and the goals they have for the program. Said another way, it is important for an organization to engage with partner organizations for volunteer purposes that align with their organizations ethics and morals.

CSEV has traditionally occurred in person, but a growing trend related to technological advances has opened the door for remote volunteering, or online corporate support for employee volunteerism (online CSEV). In recent years, access to the Internet has become increasingly widespread with an estimated 94% of the U.S. population online (Wang & Wellman, 2010).

Compared to onsite CSEV, online CSEV can more easily include older adults, people with low incomes, and people with physical disabilities. Portals and services have arisen to connect volunteers with online volunteering opportunities. For example, the United Nations sponsors a global effort, the UNV Online Volunteering Service (onlinevolunteering.org).

The bottom line in this case is that engaging in CSR, and in CSEV specifically, offers a multiplicity of benefits to future and current employees while positively affecting various revenue generating components of an organization. Giving back isn’t just for non-profits anymore, folks, and the good news is that the benefit of it is widespread.

 

References

Peterson, D.K. (2003). Benefits of participation in corporate volunteer programs: Employees’ perceptions’. Personnel Review, 33, 615-627.

Porter, M.E., Kramer, M.R. (2006). Strategy and society: The link between competitive advantage and corporate social responsibility. Harvard Business Review, 84,78-93

Rupp, Deborah E. 2011. An employee-centered model of organizational justice and social responsibility. Organizational Psychology Review 1:72–94.

Rupp, D. E., Williams C.A., & Aguilera, R.V. (2010). Increasing corporate social responsibility through stakeholder value internalization (and the catalyzing effect of new governance): An application of organizational justice, self – determination, and social influence theories. Managerial ethics: Managing the psychology of morality (69-88). New York: Routledge.

Spence, M. (1973). Job market signaling. The quarterly journal of Economics, 355-374.

Spreckley Freer (1981). Social Audit - A Management Tool for Co-operative Working. Beechwood College Ltd., UK

 

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