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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Woke at work mob has executives running scared

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Recently, prominent tech firm Basecamp attempted to limit political discussions at work. Company executives were pilloried for trying to get employees to focus more on doing their jobs rather than social and political agendas. Ultimately, one-third of their employees took buyouts and left. Bringing your “whole self” to work is a noble concept but only when it is done respectfully and responsibly. The left, however, has other ideas. 

Corporate leadership has lost control of their employees who are increasingly snowflake millennials, screen-obsessed Zoomers, leftist political activists or some horrid combination of the three. 

Some woke corporations like Nike use their overt political activism to distract from their labor practices in China or to mask the smell of other dirty laundry. But in many of these firms, executives are simply running scared. 

A company’s success isn’t measured by how many inclusion events it holds. Having an Asian-Transgender-Zoroastrian employee group that holds monthly meetings in the breakroom doesn’t make a company successful. Forcing employees into Critical Race Theory re-education seminars doesn’t either. 

Executives are buckling under all the “woke” pressure and that’s not good for American competitiveness. This is a particular problem in the tech sector where a recent survey of top firms showed employees are especially politically active, with more than 90 percent of their political donations going to Democrats. 

Last October, Coinbase lost 60 employees over efforts to curb activism at work. In January, hundreds of Google employees announced they would form a union to focus on activism around “moral issues.”

It might seem sophomoric today, but a company is successful when it makes a profit, provides return for investors and fosters strong teams that work hard to advance each other’s performance and that the brand.  

Businesses have enabled this culture that puts employees first and the company second. Perks like gyms, free snacks, social events, relaxed dress codes, informal offices and flexible schedules are now commonplace. All of these help companies compete for talent, but they’ve also warped the employee’s sense of who’s in really charge. 

Like giving every kid a trophy, employee coddling has led to a remaking of the corporate environment.

The left’s use of race and other immutable characteristics as legal and political weapons has advanced the realignment. Liberal politicians have passed volumes of pro-worker laws. In blue states like New York, an employer can get sued for asking if someone has a criminal record before offering them a job or even something called hair discrimination. Human resources bureaucracies make firing someone a herculean task. Employment lawyers ready to run to court are doing big business.  

Use of social media and other impersonal communication tools like Slack have also made workplace confrontation easier. From Facebook to email, offices are fertile ground for the pot-stirrer on the team who feeds off that false bravado. The left’s woke-at-work strategy can lead to the breakdown of teams and create hostile environments. Basic manners, professionalism, common decency and productivity go out the window.

For all their education, many young people often don’t understand how to cultivate the interpersonal relationships necessary to work in a team environment. 

Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke said in a letter to his employees last August in part “Shopify is a team, not a family … Shopify is also not the government. We cannot solve every societal problem here … We also can’t take care of all your needs.”  

Let’s hope this: Coinbase and Basecamp’s obvious but strangely bold declarations start a trend. 

As with so many aspects of today’s cultural revolution, leadership is necessary to right the ship. It’s time companies stop with the perks and the facade of diversity quotas that can lead to discrimination. Executives cannot be afraid to set a tone that work is for work, not social media, political activism and therapy sessions with your supervisor. Consumers should enthusiastically support those who do. 

• Tom Basile, host of Newsmax Television’s “America Right Now,” is an author and adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches earned media strategy.

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