When You Disagree with Your Company’s Views

by Emily Jasper on August 9, 2012

Chick-fil-A Austin-TX

Chick-fil-A Austin-TX (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The past few weeks has had me thinking about how important it is for people to find a good fit at a company (and for the company to find you’re a good fit for them). When you’re happy, you’re more productive. Fit doesn’t mean that you’re a Stepford employee, though.

Companies, even ones with a strong corporate culture, are still made up of individuals. 

Individuals have a right to their own opinions and beliefs. My personal approach is to respect people’s opinions, as long as they don’t infringe on my freedom of opinion, and I avoid infringing on their beliefs. We can have good discussions and agree to disagree. When values and opinions are forced on me, then I start getting a little uncomfortable.

What happens when companies start having an opinion?

That’s not new, but the past few weeks has had me thinking more about it. Ideally, you would be aligned with the core values of your firm. The trick is that the definition of “core value” is different to everyone. Some believe it’s steeped in The Golden Rule, or others believe religion supports core values. Even then, it’s not easy to find a match because we’re all still individuals.

What happens when you don’t share the same values of your company?

I hear about this frequently from my parents because the St. Louis region has a number of religiously-affiliated medical centers. If you’re a nurse and an atheist, do you still work at the Baptist or Jewish hospital? Does that matter to you? Perhaps on a day-to-day basis, no. If you’re pro-choice but work at a Catholic hospital, that could be a little different.

We have seen a lot in the news about Target, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-a, companies taking a stand on one side or the other of major social issues. As an employee, do you feel you need to completely agree with your company’s stance on something like gay marriage? Again, you may not care enough to worry either way. Or, the job market may not be secure enough for you to make a change if you disagree with your employee’s stance. Your beliefs may have to be set aside to earn a paycheck and provide for your family.

If you assign guilt or blame to every employee of a company that has a position you don’t agree with, stop right now. 

You are forcing your individual belief on a person without understanding the whole story. That person may not be able to walk away from the job. The regulations in that state may mean everyone employed there “agrees by affiliation.” Did everyone who didn’t agree with North Carolina’s marriage amendment move from the state? No. Guilty by association can mean that teams that play in the Chick-fil-a Bowl are against gay marriage and the farmers who grow coffee beans for Starbucks support it. How far does the association go?

Ideally, you can find an employer that shares your beliefs, but just like individuals, employers change over time. Values change. Our beliefs make us interesting individuals, but we won’t always agree. That’s why we are human.

If you don’t agree with your employer, at what point would you leave? For what kinds of values do you not care? What values are deal breakers for you? 

Enhanced by Zemanta