Three forces—the rise of affective polarization, the social fragmenting of an engagement-focused media ecosystem, and the growing importance of politics to the self—help to explain the recent assault on the United State Capitol. At least, that’s how Ethical Systems’ founding director, Jon Haidt, an expert in the political dimensions of social psychology, described the situation. That set the stage for what turned out to be a spirited discussion about how business leaders might help President Biden in his aim of uniting the country.
In the current atmosphere, for example, would it be wise to “bring your whole self to work”? Haidt suggests it isn’t. Workplaces, regarded as politically neutral “de-militarized” zones, as it were, could aid in lowering political passions. Employees can come together to focus on their company’s mission, leaving whatever their political differences may be aside.
Or can they? Watch the conversation to hear Haidt and Alison Taylor, Ethical Systems’ Executive Director, discuss how stakeholder capitalism, employee activism, and the growing transparency of company political values, make the prospect of a depoliticized corporate culture dubious. Along with moderator Batia Wiesenfeld, an NYU professor of management, they also discuss, among other things, the impact remote work is having, and will have, on corporate culture—the value placed on surveillance, for example—and how that may affect what employees look for in their leaders.
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Brian Gallagher is Ethical Systems’ Communications Director. Follow him on Twitter @bsgallagher.