Going Woke Will Make You Go Broke: If Businesses Want to Retain Young Talent, They Need to Stay Out of Politics
Investment monitor reporter Ruth Strachan recently wrote a column called “If businesses want to attract and retain talent, they must show their woke side.” There, she pointed out that the search for talent post COVID-19 had gotten much harder due to the so-called “Great Resignation.” She suggested that companies lean into the popularity of woke culture, and take strong stances on social issues in order to retain young talent.
“This balance of covering important issues while managing often-delicate internal business relationships is not an easy one for business leaders to maintain, more so when regions differ greatly on what is moral. However, if these businesses want to attract and retain the best young talent, it is a balance they must be constantly trying to perfect. The generations entering the workforce now put more importance on ethics and social issues than the generations that came before them. Hoping they will turn a blind eye to any perceived injustices is no longer an option.”
Her suggestion is great for companies that want to hire conformist Ivy-league educated robots, but will repulse high energy weirdos. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Twitter may now be owned by respectable suit and tie people; but these companies were built by freaks.
Ask yourself this: which company do you think will attract better talent:
The first company has three employees. They all are well-educated and have all of the “right” fashionable opinions. People talk about how bad the Ukraine invasion is at lunch, and the company displays the embattled country’s flag on its Facebook page.
The other company has a bunch of high-energy extremists. At lunch, the anarcho-communist vigorously debates with the Islamic fundamentalist. This company cannot display any flags, out of fear of causing a civil war among its diverse employees.
Anyone who doesn’t work for a Big 5 consulting firm will likely realize that the second company’s odds are much better. The first place sounds like a place where people go if they hate taking risks. It likely produces paper, and is probably a consulting firm. The second company sounds a lot more exciting, if also a bit unnerving. It probably is a startup making a brand new blockchain product or IOT enabled agricultural sensors.
Strachan has some sense of this problem. She writes:
“For some companies, the tightrope of appearing to care and cover important social issues, while maintaining internal business relationships, can also be problematic.”
Companies don’t need young people. As a young person, I can certify that the majority of my generation is just as worthless as the majority of the previous generation. What companies need are young radicals who will work 12 hours a day and aren’t afraid to tear down the industries that they have just joined.
If companies want to attract and retain interesting young people (instead of drones), they need to stay out of politics. Interesting young people want to know that they can post freely online without their employers breathing down their neck, that they can have a civil debate at lunch without having a call with HR, and that it is OK to hold unpopular opinions.
We live in a world where corporations are creating “tattleware” to spy on employees working from home. This software monitors the social media posts of employees, spies on them to make sure they don’t slack off during work hours, and tells employers exactly what kind of websites you are visiting.
The role of a business isn’t to tell society what it can and cannot do. Shaping society is the job of NGOs, trade associations, and think tanks. A business should make money ethically, and pay its employees well.
Companies can embrace woke culture at their own peril. Entrepreneurs like me will swoop in, and steal all of your nonconformists who hate politics. Without your greatest minds, your companies will be as defenseless as a newborn baby. And I will steal your candy.
Most of my articles are book reviews, but I also write about many other topics.