Study Shows 100% Increase in Political Affiliation Bias since 2019
In 2022, nearly a quarter (24%) of U.S. workers have personally experienced political affiliation bias, including preferential treatment or undue negative treatment on the basis of their political positions or opinions, according to the Society of Human Resources Management’s (SHRM’s) 2022 Politics at Work Study, which surveyed 504 workers in late August.
This compares to 12% of U.S. workers in 2019, for a 100% increase.
According to SHRM President and CEO, Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., “This trend has been fueled by the relative anonymity of social media, and it has spilled into our communities and our workplaces. In today’s climate, people are saying, ‘I can’t work with you if you don’t share my views.’ It’s a problem HR professionals and business leaders cannot ignore.”
Other Survey Findings:
- 26% of U.S. workers engage in political discussions with their coworkers.
- 45% say they have personally experienced political disagreements in the workplace, compared to 42% in 2019.
- 13% have experienced bullying in the workplace due to their political views.
- 27% have experienced joking about their beliefs in the workplace.
- 30% of male workers say they’ve personally experienced political affiliation bias compared to 18% of female workers.
- 13% of U.S. workers feel they have experienced limited opportunities for promotions due to their political views.
- 18% of supervisors would be hesitant to promote an employee who disclosed that they had extremely conservative beliefs compared to 21% who disclosed they had extremely liberal beliefs.
- 30% of supervisors are more likely to be hesitant to hire a job applicant who disclosed that they had extremely conservative beliefs than an applicant who disclosed that they had extremely liberal beliefs (20%).
Setting Workplace Guidelines
According to a separate survey of 1,525 HR professionals conducted from Aug. 25 to Sept. 11, only 8% of organizations have communicated guidelines to employees around political discussions at work leading up to the 2022 midterm elections.
“Any antibullying or harassment policy could be amended to include the phrase, ‘Although we encourage an open dialogue as to matters of national significance, when it comes to politics, employees must conduct discussions respectfully and without threatening or disruptive tone in the workplace,’” said Steven Loewengart, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Columbus, Ohio.
“Any such policy should make clear it is not intended to prevent employees from discussing their working conditions or otherwise engaging in protected activity,” said John Porta, an attorney with Jackson Lewis in New York City. “Employers should train their management staff on how to defuse situations if the communications become emotional or agitated.”
- ASA Staffing Today, 10/6/2022. “SHRM Study Reveals 20% of Workers Mistreated Due to Political Views“, October 5, 2022.
- SHRMS’s HR Week, 10/9/2022. “Political Affiliation Bias Strains Some Workplaces“, by Allen Smith, J.D., October 5, 2022.
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