22-Aug, 04:06

18:57, October 20 143 0

2016-10-20 18:57:07
Social Q’s: Workplace Politics (the Trump-Clinton Kind)

I own a small bakery that’s taking off. (We make a crazy good coconut cake!) I put a sign in the window, looking for help, and asked the manager to set up interviews with the best candidates. On the morning of the interviews, I saw a woman park her car. It had a Trump bumper sticker on it. By coincidence, she turned out to be the first person I interviewed. How terrible would it be for me not to hire her on that basis alone? If it makes a difference, I am an American citizen, born here, but my mom is Mexican. I have felt attacked by Mr. Trump.

AMELIA

We all knew this column was coming. (But relax, Trump supporters, Hillary fans get theirs in the next question.) And since when did cake become the most polarizing dessert? If it’s not gay wedding cake boycotts, it’s “Trump icers need not apply.” I think we can do better, pastry chefs.

As a legal matter, most job candidates, other than those in a few states and municipalities, enjoy no protection from discrimination by private employers based on their political affiliation or speech. So if your baseline for being “terrible” is lawbreaking, you can probably ding this applicant. But let’s aim higher.

Put aside her supposed political preference (she may have borrowed the car from a friend) and answer this: Which applicant is best qualified and gives you the greatest confidence that she (or he) will work hard for the success of your bakery? That’s the candidate you should hire. And frankly, all the better if it’s the Trump supporter. We’ve become so Balkanized in our lives that it’s often possible to chat only with people who agree with us all day long.

But many of us who are gay, for instance, became the recipients of surprising kindness, from unlikely quarters, when we started coming out in greater number. Folks discovered they already knew (and liked) gay people. They just didn’t know they did. That’s the beauty of cross-pollination. Perhaps when your new employee sees that children of immigrants are already our neighbors and co-workers and friends, she’ll rethink the wisdom of “Build That Wall!” (And you can fire her if she doesn’t work out.)

I work at a midsize company in the human resources department. This week, my boss (the head of the department) sent out a companywide email saying how important it is for us to vote for Hillary Clinton, especially if we care about reproductive freedom, as she does. I couldn’t believe it! Is this as grossly inappropriate as it seems to my cubicle mate and me?

ANONYMOUS

If this weren’t so egregious, it might actually be funny: Your human resources department needs a human resources department. The whole point of H.R. is to make everyone feel included in the common cause of your work. Broadcasting political positions during a hard-fought election is the antithesis of that. It would be wrong for any employee to do it. But it is even worse that she did. The head of human relations should know better. She tried to use her position of authority to influence those with less of it. (Happily, voting still happens in secret.)

Still, don’t call your boss on her bad behavior and risk putting yourself in the doghouse (or losing your job) unless you are sure she can take constructive criticism — and I mean, really sure. If so, say: “Deirdre, I know you feel strongly about the election. But shouldn’t we be more careful in H.R. to create an environment where everyone feels welcome, even if they don’t support Hillary Clinton?”

If you aren’t comfortable speaking with her, think about talking with her boss. But don’t feel lily-livered if you don’t — or that this experience didn’t have value. Watching our bosses make mistakes can be a great learning experience. I have no doubt that when you’re in charge, you’ll never make an error in judgment like this. (And we have your boss to thank for it, right?)

My wife and I adopted a puppy for our son. We go to the dog run in our neighborhood, and it’s turned out to be nice family time for us. Our son throws a ball for the dog, and my wife and I hang out nearby. Yesterday, a woman approached our son and said: “Please don’t throw that ball. It will make my dog aggressive and start a fight.” Granted, we’re new at this, but it seemed like an inappropriate request. What do you think?

CARL, NEW YORK

If we learned anything from that “Access Hollywood” bus ride — just to stick with our political theme (and keep it classy) — it is this: Announcing our inappropriate tendencies in advance does not excuse them. Balls are allowed in dog runs. If tossing them makes this woman’s dog aggressive, she should keep her dog on its leash or avoid the run. Teaching your son to stand up for himself, in a polite way, may take a bit of practice. But it is well worth the effort.