Workers Expect Employers to Take a Stand

One of the more striking images from the NFL protests Sunday was of owners standing arm in arm with their players during the national anthem. The optics of millionaire and billionaire team owners on the field in solidarity was even more powerful than the statements most made condemning the President for his verbal lashing of players who protest during the playing of the anthem.

A few of these owners — the Jaguars’ Shahid Khan and the Houston Texans’ Robert McNair — were major contributors to Trump’s campaign.

Whatever your view of taking a knee during the “Star Spangled Banner,” the action by owners, coaches and other team officials to take a stand is what employees are demanding of their leaders. Glassdoor today released a survey showing 62% of workers “expect employers to take a stand on important issues affecting the country and their constitutional rights.”

By an even larger 75%, millennials want their employers to speak out. Gen X workers (35-44) agree, but by a smaller 68%. Boomers, however, are less sure; only 49% say employers should be out front on issues like immigration, equal rights, climate change and others.

The survey was conducted months ago, just as major league baseball was getting underway. So the results are not influenced by the events of the last week. Rather, they confirm a growing trend, driven by the millennial generation, that employers need to be involved in social causes. Deloitte’s 2017 millennial survey says 86% of millennials globally “believe the success of a business should be measured in terms of more than just its financial

Glassdoor’s survey, like Deloitte’s, found a high percentage (81%) of millennials “expect their employer to support groups and individuals in need in their respective communities, either through donations and/or volunteer efforts.” This sentiment is shared across all age groups, with a majority in each agreeing.

Millennials especially expect their employers “to use work time and resources to advocate for positive social change, regardless of political affiliation.” This is a strongly generational sentiment: 72% of 18-34 year-olds have that expectation, falling to 56% for ages 35-44, 37% ages 45-64 and 26% age 65 or older.

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With millennials already the largest demographic in the workforce and posed to be the majority in a few short years, employers who want to recruit the best and most talented need to think through where they stand on these issues.

“Today’s informed candidates want to work for companies that are actively engaged on topics that directly impact their lives and align with their beliefs,” said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor’s chief reputation officer and senior vice president of global corporate affairs.

It’s a difficult issue, to be sure. Taking public stands on touchy social issues — immigration for instance — can cut both ways. While it may find support among an employer’s younger workers, older ones and customers might have a very different take.

“The question is how and when employers should approach hot-button topics without damaging their employer brand or recruiting success,” Lyon observed. “When determining how and when to engage on timely issues, it is important for employers to keep the company’s mission and core values top of mind to guide decisions. The big takeaway for employers is that today’s candidates, especially younger job seekers, want to work at companies that take a stand and take action.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


8 Comments on “Workers Expect Employers to Take a Stand

  1. Employers ARE out front (or perhaps way out back, depending on your perspective) on the issues of today, and at the highest levels: look at President Trump’s Cabinet.

  2. People are going off the deep end and continue to be blind to why Trump was elected in the first place. Millenial opinions are not all that matters in this country.

    1. You tell those young whipper-snappers, Morgan!
      “Hey you kids, get off my lawn, before Morgan and I throw our dentures and Depends at ya!
      No respect, I tell, ya! There oughtta be a law!
      When I was a boy, Teddy Roosevelt Knew what to do- ship ’em off ta Cuber ta fight for Uncle Sam, young whipper-snappers….”

  3. Of course the NFL owners are going to stand with the players. The are just protecting their bread and butter. They have too much skin in the game to side with President Trump. What choice do they have?

    This behavior proves this point. You want to mess with the NFL power structure? Quit buying NFL tickets and merchandise. Don’t spend a dime on any business that advertises with the NFL. These people need your money to survive.

    Let the real protests begin!

  4. I think it is important to remember that this is not a political post. In the next 8ish years the millennial generation will over take the boomers as the largest contributors to the work force. This is going to force business owners to change the way they communicate, engage, and attract talent. Status quo will not be effective. To boot, Gen Z poses a separate set of challenges and expectations.It is important to start thinking about before businesses get left behind.

    Very interesting topic coupled with a polarizing current event. Love to hear ideas about how employers can meet this new demand in the middle.

    1. 1) “I think it is important to remember that this is not a political post.”
      This is about a political act- how can it NOT be political?
      2) “Status quo will not be effective”
      That’s what the “Me Generation” (older boomers)s said during the ’60s, and they became the status quo.
      Each generation seems to form organizations which reflect their outlook and concerns, and these organizations tend to usually reflect the outlook concerns of these people as they proceed through life, while (often) failing to maintain a commitment to bring in younger people, who get frustrated/are uninterested with the “status quo” organizations and form their own organizations, which repeats the cycle..

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