Mixing Business and Politics
Developing a product, getting that product to market, and getting customers to buy your product is hard enough by itself. Letting politics find a way in can and will upset that delicate balance you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Unless, of course, you’re selling political products 🙂
As someone who frequently finds himself the antagonist in political debate this might seem a bit hypocritical, but mixing business and politics is usually bad news. It’s unhealthy for workplace relations and, worse, when you stake a public position for your company, it anchors your business into one side or another of a very sensational and emotional discussion.
The problem is, that political polarization is on the rise and social media has enabled the uninformed and informed alike to generate volume – traffic. Where there’s traffic (website traffic, social media views, etc), media buyers and advertisers see consumers.
There’s more political volume than ever and many companies are taking sides.
It’s not pretty:
Here’s Marie Claire demanding that Taylor Swift take a public political position. There’s nothing more ridiculous than demanding an entertainer talk politics – as if that were something the public needs; more actors and singers telling us how to think.
— Marie Claire (@marieclaire) November 14, 2017
Facebook and Twitter are developing a habit of shutting down conservatives and centrists alike. Worse, many YouTubers are finding their content de-monetized upon release, and some getting their gmail accounts frozen:
My gmail/YT account is back. Why was it shut down? Who knows Why did they refuse to reinstate it? Who knows? Why did they turn it back on? https://t.co/6jSJQRWLin
— Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) August 1, 2017
This feels like a Free Speech issue, but since these are privately owned companies, they are able to do whatever they’d like. However, it is equivalent to putting a political stake in the ground, and that will affect their consumer base.
Hillary Clinton once said she had, “both a public and private position” and, whereas, I find it disgusting when politicians aren’t driven by real principles, it’s not a bad rule for business.
It’s a better rule of thumb to just stay out of the fray. Be product and customer focused. If politics are important to you, then maybe it’s better to keep that on your personal journey.
There is, however, a time and place for your business to get political – and that’s when people are getting hurt. This is not to be conflated with whether or not you’re entitled to free health care, your position on immigration policy, or just anything that you decide to drag under the umbrella of “getting hurt” – I’m talking about real injustice: imprisonment, war, violence, etc.
A better way to get involved is to help victims directly. Give veterans jobs, donate money to flood/hurricane victims, help women who have been subject to violence, donate money to good causes, etc.
Help actual people, don’t just use your business as a political pulpit.
There’s an old adage that says, “No politics or religion in polite company.”
It’s a rule I break with great frequency, but there’s a time and a place.