When Are We Ever Going to Get That Kinder and Gentler Workplace?

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Nov 20, 2014

I have this recurring fantasy that corporations of the future will be kinder and gentler.

I know there’s danger in judging the world according to my personal experiences only, but nevertheless, experience tells me it’s not too nice out there.

I wish it were nicer. For example …

Earlier this week, TLNT published an article (Five Big Social Media Red Flags to Avoid From Potential Hires) about screening applicants using social media. I’m not a huge fan of the practice, but so what?

Opinionated people are a problem?

That said, this line really jumped out at me:

Hiring opinionated … employees runs the risk of offending others, tarnishing your brand, and poisoning the workplace environment.”

Being a loud mouth myself, my stomach did a flip-flop when I read that.

Seriously? Now having an opinion is a problem for some organizations?

News flash to employers: People who work for you have opinions. And we should be able to have opposing opinions, even strong opposing opinions, and still work peaceably and productively together. It’s called respecting others’ differences. It’s called tolerance. It’s called maturity.

Frankly, I don’t think it’s any of your business whether I believe men should only marry women, or whether I believe that such thinking is gender bias. Not everyone who believes differently than you is a liability.

From the knowledge economy to the human economy

So while I get the gist of the article, honestly, this is too damn much.

It’s as though humanity and the workplace are oil and water, when they should go together like peanut butter and jelly.

So imagine my delight when I ran across an article from the Harvard Business Review titled From the Knowledge Economy to the Human Economy.

The author, Dov Seidman, says we’re now seeing a shift from the knowledge economy, which values brain over brawn, to the human economy, which values humanity over traits that “can’t be programmed into software.” He writes,

In the human economy, the most valuable workers will be hired hearts … [they’ll] bring to their work essential traits … like creativity, passion, character, and collaborative spirit—their humanity, in other words.”

From your lips to God’s ears, Mr. Seidman.

Hold your horses, sister!

So you say, “Geez, Crystal, I think you’re missing the boat on this one. Nobody’s suggesting all opinions are bad. The author of the TLNT article was simply saying it’s a good idea to protect your business from people with the poor judgment to post their distasteful opinions on social media for everyone and their Grandma’s third cousin twice removed to see.”


Yeah, well, all I know is for every thought I could ever have, there’s someone in the world ready to take offense at it.

Enough already. At some point we must learn to separate people from their ideas (even ideas with which we strongly disagree) and move on. There’s no evidence, for example, that someone who thinks abortion is murder can’t respectfully serve a manager who’s pro-choice, or vice versa.

Shoot, if I’d decided I couldn’t work with anyone whose world view differs from mine, I wouldn’t have a single day of gainful employment to my name.

No (fill-in-the-blank) need apply

And that’s the most disturbing thought of all — that I, as a mere worker, can’t afford the luxury of avoiding every manager in the universe with beliefs I dispute, but a manager should feel comfortable excluding from the workforce anyone who doesn’t quite see things the way he (or she) does.

I’m sorry, that’s wrong, and it’s flippin’ lazy too. Stop looking for shortcuts, dude.

Listen, I’m not naïve. The hiring process is subjective, and it always will be.

But come on. We’re taking things too far. Job seekers shouldn’t have to present on social media as neutral drones — devoid of any potentially “offensive” opinion — to be deemed job worthy.

Where’s the humanity in that?