"‘Never Again’ Is Now” Has Arrived In The World Of Work

Our Managing Partner, Marie Kanellopulos, explains why taking a political stance against right-wing extremism, racism, and antisemitism has become imperative for any company. Democratic values such as equality, justice, solidarity, diversity, and inclusion are now essential in every workplace.

May 21, 2024

For too long, CEOs and corporate leaders have avoided political commentary. However, the landscape is shifting. Today, organisations are actively launching campaigns promoting diversity and taking out ads against antisemitism, firmly positioning themselves against racism. A society that embodies democratic values is crucial for fostering innovation and maintaining competitiveness. Therefore, the political stance "‘NeverAgain’ Is Now” isn’t merely a nice-to-have; it's a necessity for any company.

Check-Up Your Corporate Culture

Before a company can confidently claim "’Never Again’ is Now," it must ensure that its employees support this public stance. Failure to do so risks losing trust and potentially suffering reputational damage. HR departments need to ensure that diversity, inclusion, and equality are not only advocated but also practiced within the company.

An assessment through individual interviews and comprehensive employee surveys can reveal strengths and weaknesses in the company's real culture regarding its political stance.

Building A Target Culture Carefully

If disparities emerge, HR should take action. The future of a company relies on DEI (Diversity, Equity, andInclusion), but culture cannot be imposed from the top down; it must grow from the collective voices and desires of all employees to remain authentic.

Moreover, the goal is not indoctrination but rather allowing, appreciating, and debating diverse perspectives to find a consensus that epitomises democracy. Managers must handle differing opinions with respect; otherwise, they risk alienating employees with leanings towards parties like the AfD.

Cultivating Democratic Values Collaboratively

The process involves jointly developing a democratic stance, defining corresponding values, and embedding them into the company culture. Once the strategy and key messages are crafted, it’s beneficial to openly present them and discuss them with all stakeholders. From the feedback received, HR can develop guidelines and initiatives to ensure that the politically motivated culture is embraced at all levels, influencing leadership styles, team building, feedback culture, internal communication, and recruitment processes.

Addressing Immediate Issues

If the check-up has revealed clear misconduct, HR must take action. For example, if employees openly display their racist attitudes by belittling or discriminating against others. Xenophobic and discriminatory statements are not covered by the fundamental right to freedom of expression. Such employees should, at least, be asked to talk. In serious cases, there may even be consequences under employment law.

For deficiencies within certain teams, coaching for managers or unconscious bias training might be beneficial. Employing external diversity managers can facilitate discussions, challenge prejudices, and initiate a thoughtful process of change.

Strengthening Democracy

When implemented professionally, companies with a political corporate culture bolster our democracy. An environment where DEI is practiced, and where appreciation, safety, and participation are standard, inherently supports democratic thought and action.

Marie's article was first published in Business Punk magazine.

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