So it’s over. While employment lawyers are spit-balling what President-Elect Trump will do, here’s what I know:
- As a candidate, his tweets would render him ineligible for employment according to recruiters.
- As an employee, his comments would violate the harassment policies of many, if not most, employers.
Regardless of how you voted, this matters. Discrimination and harassment are against the law even if the makeup of the EEOC changes. (If Commissioner Lipnic is appointed Labor Secretary, President-Elect Trump will be able to fill three vacancies in the next two years). Employers must combat discrimination or face costly investigations, litigation, and the PR nightmares that accompany them.
During the election, employers struggled with how to handle political conversations in the workplace given the negative rhetoric. After the election, the struggle continues. Respect, tolerance, and the work should and will continue to be the focus.
This focus is important, but finding the right messaging is hard. Tim Cook’s letter to Apple employees following the election embraced all of the tech giant’s employees and encouraged unity. Grubhub’s CEO asked employees who believed in the discriminatory rhetoric of Trump’s campaign to resign after first being criticized for what appeared to be a request that all Trump voters resign. Each employer must find, and then strike, the right tone for its own culture.
I’ve spent the last three days struggling to understand why the friends and family I love and admire could look past the racism, sexism, bigotry, and cruelty to vote for Donald Trump. Their votes struck a deep and sincere fear in so many, including me. I have found solace in two things: (1) my little men know how to treat everyone with respect and embrace our differences, and (2) many employers know to do the same things.
Now, all of us, including those voters who looked past the nastiness even though it doesn’t fit their own beliefs, need speak out against the racism, the sexism, and the bigotry to have a constructive, empathetic conversation about what this election means for our workplaces and our country.