Social Report: Political Speech
Friday, November 02, 2012 7:00 AM
Top decision makers:
I’m not sure 0%
I’m not sure 2.1%
I’m not sure 1.4%
Bloomberg News recently reported that some bosses are suggesting to their employees which candidate they should vote for in the 2012 presidential election. One Florida boss, time-share titan David Siegel, made headlines when he sent thousands of employees an email that promised dire consequences should Barack Obama win re-election.
“If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans,” he wrote to his workers, “I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.” He told Bloomberg: “I wanted to let my employees know what will come if they make the wrong choice. They need to worry if Obama gets re-elected.”
With Iowa playing a key roll in the presidential campaign, the Business Record wanted to know whether you thought this was a good business practice. The responses varied, both among employees and among top decision makers at businesses, but the general consensus from our poll? Keep the political speech out of the office.
Here’s a glance at responses from last week’s poll:
– Chris Conetzkey, editor of the Business Record
Do you think it is appropriate for bosses to suggest to employees which candidate to vote for?
You responded (via a Business Record poll)
NO - TOP DECISION MAKERS:
Sherryl Viars, Chief Thinker and Doer, SVC Strategy Vision Communications
It is crossing a line.
Randy Roth, Managing Partner, Corporate Contracts
It is absolutely NOT appropriate for a boss/owner/manager to tell, threaten or even suggest who to vote for. Voting and political leaning is an incredibly PERSONAL choice and a right as a citizen. It’s unconscionable to have the owner of a company even hint that the way an employee votes could affect their job.
Jamie Buelt, Owner, en Q Strategies
I researched the issues important to me, such as health care, taxes and foreign policy, and listened to what the candidates really had to say. I looked at their records unfiltered by Fox News and MSNBC. We can do that for ourselves, you know. We have just forgotten how.
Chaden Halfhill, President, Silent Rivers Design + Build
I think it is a breach of trust and autonomy. I think encouraging a conversation or a dialogue about issues, and creating an informed staff is best.
Kent McDonald, President, Knowledge Bridge Partners
I (make a decision) based on my personal assessment of each candidate’s capabilities, just like everyone should do, not based on threats from their employer.
Pamela Wyant, President, Exhibit Resources Midwest
This is a democracy; each person is allowed to vote as they choose. If an employer is telling an employee how to vote, that can be perceived as a threat. No one in this country should ever feel threatened by the choice they make of whom to vote for.
Ronald Hanser, President and Principal, Hanser & Associates
Employers should encourage employees to get out and vote, but not HOW to vote. Employers breed resentment if they tell their employees for WHOM they should vote.
Bob Stouffer, Superintendent, Des Moines Christian School
The employer-employee relationship is already fraught with all kinds of complexities, which can quickly compromise performance and loyalty. While I love to speak about “religion” and politics, I should never implicitly or explicitly pressure an employee to vote a certain way.
YES - TOP DECISION MAKERS:
Brad Phillips, Partner, BPW Financial Group
Employees need to be informed of the reason to vote for or against someone or something. There is no better person to inform them of the effect it will have on the place they work than their boss. This should not be misconstrued as a boss FORCING their employees to vote for someone; that is wrong.
Dave Vance, Broker/Owner, Alpha One Commercial Real Estate
Employees may not understand that the consequences involved very well may impact their job, benefits and future. They need to be aware, but how they vote is up to them.
Creighton Cox, Executive Officer, Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines
As a nonprofit executive, the practice of suggesting specific candidates can jeopardize an IRS status. However, elections have consequences. If a private owner feels a general election may impact their business negatively, they have a right to inform their employees of those consequences. I don’t feel an employer should mandate who employees support, but the information specific to their company should be shared and may influence the employees’ final decision.
Sam Warren, President, Paper Free Technology
Most employees have no idea of the impact of taxation on business. This is a time of extraordinary change, not incremental change. People need to know and the media certainly are not raising the alarm.
Craig Downs, President, IowaMicroLoan
Business sustainability is not an issue that all employees think about. They should. Oftentimes the big picture is not what employees see or think about.
Sonny Hall, President/Owner, Absolute Concrete Construction
It takes hours to research through the lies of the media, and most employees won’t take the time to perform the research required to make a good decision. So many of my employees come to me for my honest opinion and I give it too them.
H.A. Gross, Sales Manager, Plaza Printers
I believe it is the responsibility of the employer to inform the employee about the potential impact the outcome of the election can have on the company and on the future for the employee.
NO - EMPLOYEES:
Veda Bergeson, Second Vice President, West Bank
It is a personal choice and has nothing at all to do with the office and the workload.
Cindy Smith , Analyst, Self Employed
It is ridiculous to think an employer can be such a control freak to think he/she can manage employees as such. What a sad state in which you are being threatened and coerced in the workplace. I would call this harassment at its finest!
Tiffany K. Spinner, Annual Fund Manager, Civic Center of Greater Des Moines
While the business environment/financial position is incredibly important in this election, there are various other highly relevant issues on the line. Individuals should make their decisions based on a number of factors - and should never be encouraged/discouraged when voting because of others’ influence or out of fear. Isn’t that what democracy is about?
Matt, Branch Manager, U.S. Bank
Are you kidding me?! It sounds like a threat to me, and threatening to fire someone because of how they vote has to have legal consequences!
Barb Hokel, Certified Commercial Investment Member
They can state why one is better for their business than the other, but don’t suggest that if I vote for the “other” guy, that that threatens my job position.
Craig McIntyre, Customer Service Representative, CSB Insurance
No different than unions shouldn’t be able to tell how to vote either. And if you don’t tell anyone how you voted, then it shouldn’t matter anyway!
Mark Davis, Donor and Community Engagement Director, National MS Society
Do we really have to say? It’s pretty obvious that it puts pressure on the employee to do something that they are uncomfortable with and which goes against the very principle of freedom that our country was founded on.
Connie Crawfordm Mortgage Loan Officer
This is a democracy and no one - boss, clergy, etc. -- should try and influence my vote. This came in the form of a threat.
Ginny Showman, Project Coordinator, Environmental Services of Iowa LLC
Someone with authority over you should never interfere with a right guaranteed by the Constitution. Even if it is a “suggestion.”
Eric Wessels, Project Navigator, SJM Construction
CEO compensation is too great a portion of the corporate income relative to the workers who are responsible for creating that income. Mr. Siegal, mentioned in the article, is concerned only w/keeping the disparity overweighed in his favor. He cares less about the lives of the people that work for him. He is just greedy.
Kim Zoeller, Senior Account Manager
Your personal preferences with regards to your religion/politics should always be kept separate from your workplace.
YES - EMPLOYEES:
Daryl Lewis, Business Development Consultant, Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Co.
I think it’s okay for bosses to SUGGEST which way employees should vote, but that’s not what happened with David Siegel. To threaten them with their jobs if they don’t vote correctly is completely unacceptable.
Gary Schuster, Internal Auditor, Titan Marketing Services Inc.
If the outcome of an election or new regulations affect the company I work for and will have an impact on my job, it is very important to know in advance. Knowing how changes might affect my ongoing income stream is very important to me.
Steve Cruse, Vice President, Iowa Business Growth Co.
It’s important for employees to know there is a direct relationship between their company and policies in Washington.