Do Business and Politics Mix?
by Ellen Fruchtman, President
You work hard to build a business. So if you have strong feelings about a political view, should you stand behind your convictions? On this Election Day – November 3, 2015 – it seems like a great subject to write about because we have exactly 365 days until the big one, and the candidates are certainly giving us daily fodder for thought.
If you’re passionate about something fairly political, you may feel you’re compromising your integrity by not speaking your mind. On the other hand, are you being insensitive to the other viewpoint? As I troll the Facebook pages of many very smart people in the industry, I am struck by how many individuals feel the need to air their political views. It can come with a hefty, negative price tag. When all is said and done, do you really feel it has a place in your business?
Personally, I’d err on the side of least resistance – and I’m a political junkie. It wasn’t that many years ago this firm was actually knee deep in local and regional politics. Hell, we ran mayoral campaigns, congressional campaigns, and everything in between. We did it for Republicans and Democrats. Honestly, both parties knew we weren’t “affiliated” with either. Some candidates weren’t happy about it. But somehow they got over it, because they wanted to win. It was our prerogative to turn down someone we simply didn’t want to work with. But we’re in a service business. We don’t deal with the general public. Let me just add as much as it gave me an adrenaline rush to be at campaign headquarters and watch precinct reports, as much as I loved being paid upfront and having some candidates who were cash cows, as much fun as it was to be a part of debate preps, as heady as it was to say we got so-and-so elected, I am darn glad we’re not a part of that scene any longer. I knew I needed to be done when a mayoral candidate asked us to develop his platform at our very first meeting. Platform? We write campaign slogans, develop logos and yard signs, write TV and radio commercials, and place your media! And the guy got elected.
There’s nothing pretty about politics.
Here’s the truth: If someone asks, I would never lie about my personal opinion. However, I would never recommend anyone in retail (or most businesses for that matter) put campaign signs on their property. I would never recommend sponsorships of volatile political on-air programs. I would never recommend you air your political voice on your Facebook business page OR personal page if you have “fans” who are your customers. There is just more downside than upside if you walk down this path. In this very competitive and polarized world, your business just can’t afford to alienate a percentage of the population. Pure and simple.
Lend your voice (and personal energy) to making the world a better place. Speak out about child abuse. Work on being a part of eradicating cancer. Help people who simply can’t help themselves.