Corporate America Votes: McCain Better for Business

As presidential race heats up, employees are feeling political pressure at work

SEATTLE, WA (September 15, 2008) – There’s no lipstick needed here: companies feel John McCain will be more beneficial for them long term than Barack Obama. Not surprisingly, the larger they are, the more likely they are to support McCain. According to a recent survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), almost two-thirds (65.3%) of companies with greater than 10,000 employees feel McCain will benefit them more in the long run.

It’s not a complete victory for McCain, however. While 54% of all survey respondents feel the Republican candidate will be better for their company, respondents from mid-sized companies – those with 1,000-5,000 employees – weighed in at a healthy 63% pro-Obama.

But, as the presidential race has heated up, so has the political pressure employees face in the workplace. Almost 60% of respondents report that employees freely discuss their political opinions at work, with more than 1 in 5 saying those discussions result in arguments between co-workers with differing viewpoints. A full 30% report that another employee has proactively attempted to influence his or her choice of candidate.

It appears that this pressure stops at the co-worker level, however, and often doesn’t rise higher in the organization. Less than 10% of respondents reported that a manager has tried to influence the political views of his or her direct reports, and less than 5% report that a manager has solicited donations for a candidate in the workplace.

“Every four years many employees go through an often uncomfortable period where the political leanings of their co-workers are often in full display,” said Jay Jamrog, SVP of Research at i4cp. “It’s important for companies to try and discourage this in the workplace. It’s at best merely distracting, at worst incredibly divisive, and typically it’s a drag on workplace productivity.”

Despite the obvious benefits of discouraging the expression of political views in the workplace, the majority of companies don’t specifically address this. Sixty-two percent of respondents report that their company does not have a policy concerning political participation or expression of political views. Of the companies that do, most of the policies cover campaigning for candidates while on the job, posting of political notices on company bulletin boards or intranet sites, and the display of political paraphernalia such as buttons or bumper stickers at work. Only 25% of those with policies address discussions of politics while on the job.

The Taking the Pulse: Workplace Politics survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with, the first week of September 2008. There were a total of 456 respondents. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.

About i4cp, inc.

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Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.