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How To Protect Your Work Culture When “Political Correctness” Is Under Fire

Source | FastCompany : By ART MARKMAN

Donald Trump is set to become the 45th president of the United States, in large part because his slogan “Make America Great Again” resonated, as did his rhetoric disparaging “political correctness.” So there’s reason to believe that some employees may feel newly licensed to express ideas that conflict with many employers’ missions. This isn’t merely hypothetical.

By Wednesday last week, there were already widespread reports of racist incidents and threats, hate crimes, and bigoted speech across the country, in venues ranging from schools to social media to public space. Employers who think these attitudes can’t or won’t spill into the workplace may be mistaken. Here’s what to do to prepare.


The central idea behind political correctness is that society should monitor speech in public places—including the workplace—to guard against remarks that might offend others.

On its face, Trump’s campaign messaging may not neatly fit that definition. The phrase “Make America Great Again” conveys a political opinion—that the U.S. is no longer a great nation, and that we need to recapture an era that made us great. And this view isn’t strictly ideological (though it’s surely that, too); it has a basis in human psychology. Research demonstrates that people tend to see the past as having been better than it was at the time they were experiencing it.

Nostalgia and the political attitudes associated with it aren’t things that companies can or should try to suppress. Not only is that illegal, it’s also counterproductive. One reason nostalgia is so effective is that people think about things that are distant from them (including things distant in time) more abstractly than things that are close by. Some people—and not just Trump voters—may look back at 1960s America and judge it to have been better than the present. Companies often hired people for life and provided them with a generous pension when they retired, giving many workers a greater sense of security than today, when changing jobs and careers is more common, and often leads to less prosperity.

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