Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday Factoid: Values at work

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you quit your job if your values did not match your employer's?

Signs point to no.

I've worked for ten years at a place where the other employees' (and my employers') religious and political values are pretty different from mine. They tend not to bring their messages about these things to work, so I found out about the differences pretty subtly, except in one case with a person who only worked at my office for a couple years and was always going around blasting his opinions about single mothers being lazy freeloaders who force him to pay for their health care and child care (really?) and saying really gross misinformed things about poor people. I felt unsafe around that person for a few reasons (primarily because sometimes when we were alone he'd use a LOT of foul language and sometimes throw things), and eventually I had to ask my employer not to let me work alone with him. My wishes were respected, too.

There are certain things that would make me quit, of course; I wouldn't work for a company that I knew to be cheating people or actively harming people, but if I simply work for people who have different political or religious opinions, I kinda say to myself that maybe I can be a good example. 

I saw an episode of The West Wing once where a politician and a gay activist were talking, and the activist was upset that the politician wouldn't be loud and proud about his support for gay rights, while the politician said if he did so it would be noble and idealistic but not result in positive change because prejudice would influence people not to elect him. He explained that he can get more done for gay rights by being low-key about it and staying in the system than he can declaring his support publicly and making himself un-electable in some people's minds. That way he can work behind the scenes and vote for the right stuff, which was consistent with the type of ally this experienced politician believed was needed. 

I kinda feel like that's a good position for me to be in, too. If I work with people who have poisonous beliefs that are, in my opinion, fundamentally bigoted or ignorant, I can do more good working with them and subtly influencing them where appropriate (though in most situations it isn't appropriate any more than it's appropriate for them to bring it up to me).

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