It seems that politics has seeped into almost every facet of American life. Everywhere you go, it shows up like a horror movie villain – impossible to escape. This truth is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in the workplace, especially among younger professionals. In fact, a recent survey revealed that more of those belonging to Gen Z wish to meld their political activism with their work life.
A survey conducted by Skynova, an online software company, revealed that a significant percentage of those born between 1997 and 2012 believe prospective employers ought to be aware of the political causes in which they are involved. The company received 765 responses from potential employees under the age of 25 and employers, averaging about 46 years of age.
Skynova’s study showed that 46.3 percent of Gen Z respondents believed “[i]ncluding activism on your resume should become more acceptable” compared to 28.9 percent of employers who agreed. Additionally, 37.1 percent of Gen Zers indicated that it is “vital for employers to be aware of social justice movements important to employees,” while 48 percent of employers said the same.
Even more noteworthy is that 34.6 percent of Gen Zers said they would likely turn down a job if the potential employer “did not share beliefs about social justice.” Among employers, 19.4 percent said they would reject an applicant for the same reason.
The survey’s findings also showed what type of activism Gen Zers are willing to include on their resume. The majority (55.3 percent) said they would put “[v]olunteering for social justice organizations” on the document, and 42.9 percent indicated they would include “[f]undraising.” Involvement in “awareness campaigns” also ranked high at 31.4 percent along with participating in protests at 26.9 percent.
When it comes to movements that Gen Zers would identify with on their resume, “equality” topped the list at 54.3 percent, with “racial injustice” slightly trailing at 51.8 percent. About 48.8 percent of respondents chose Black Lives Matter, while 48 percent selected climate justice.
Joe Mercurio, Creative Strategist for Skynova, shed some light on the poll’s findings. When asked why almost half of Gen Zers feel it is necessary to include activism on one’s resume, he noted that this generation has “been increasingly vocal about the importance of their employer’s values matching their own” and that they might be seeking “an employer who shares those values.”
In essence, it appears to be part of the applicant’s vetting process. They want to be sure that potential employers espouse similar political beliefs. “In including their activism on their resumes, they’re ensuring their future employers are aware,” Mercurio explained.
The strategist also discussed the disparity between employers and potential employees when it comes to displaying activism on the resume. “The difference here seems to be when the information is shared. While almost 3/4 of employers don’t believe activism needs to be included in a resume, it would seem that once a person is employed, employers might value having that information,” Mercurio said.
This makes sense, considering that many companies seek to ensure that they are creating a comfortable and positive environment for their workers. One way they retain talent is by making them feel as if their opinions are valued and that they are part of something bigger than themselves.
“There could be many reasons why employers don’t want to know during the application process, potentially to reduce bias or simply because they only want relevant job-related information at that time. Employers might value knowing which social justice causes their employees are interested in, potentially as a tool to boost engagement or to encourage groups for volunteer efforts. Oftentimes volunteering together boosts team and company morale.”
I also sought Mercurio’s opinion on the survey’s finding that nearly a quarter of employers would reject an applicant “who did not echo their beliefs,” asking if he expects this percentage to increase. He replied:
“While we don’t have data on how this number may have fluctuated over the years, it would be interesting to see how this number changes. As employers focus on diversity in their hiring practices, one could assume that would also include diversity of opinions and value systems.”
What was noticeable about the list of causes Gen Zers preferred was that they were all left-leaning movements. There were no conservative causes listed in the survey. Mercurio pointed out that these are “currently some of the more prevalent movements that we’re seeing online and in the media, across party lines.” He also speculated that applicants who favor conservative causes “simply don’t feel the need to include that information.”
This is certainly possible. But it is also likely that those holding right-leaning beliefs would refrain from putting their activism on their resume out of fear that hiring managers might be biased against them. Conservative applicants might rightly assume that listing their affiliation with pro-Second Amendment activism, for example, or involvement with Turning Point USA might not exactly endear themselves to many employers, especially in an environment in which more corporations are embracing woke ideology.
It is not easy to predict how this trend will shake out in the years to come. But it is conceivable that incorporating political ideology into the work environment will become a more common trend especially as America’s political climate becomes even more divided.
With this paradigm shift, employers might also be even more encouraged to venture further into the political realm. We saw this happening with corporations taking a stand against voting laws passed in red states. The most recent high-profile example of a company wading into the political arena occurred when Disney decided to cross swords with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis over the state’s Parental Rights in Education law.
This trend could portend a more complex professional world for those who do not subscribe to far-leftist ideology. It seems reasonable to speculate that conservatives and right-leaning independents would be forced to operate in an environment in which they have to either find a non-political employer or self-censor when they are at the office. On the other hand, it is also possible the backlash against political corporations might cause them to course-correct and go back to focusing on profit. Either way, it seems clear that, for the time being, politics in the workplace is here to stay.