We live in a very politically divisive time at the moment, which can make talking about political topics quite difficult. Especially if you work with someone who has a different political viewpoint. That’s not to say that two people with opposing political views can’t have a conversation, get along or even be friends or in a relationship. But the gap between the left and the right is quite large at the moment and it can make for awkward talk around the coffee machine. It could get worse than that, especially if you’re bringing up your views at the office.

And it might be even worse for you if you work for Google. The tech giant has issued new “community guidelines” for its employees. As you might have imagined these guidelines ban political discussions inside the company and reminds staff that they are responsible for their words and will be held accountable for them. While this might seem like a good idea, it makes you wonder if it really is. Is Google trying to curb employee outcry, or are they actually attempting to avoid the controversies that can come up as a result of these opinions?

You might remember, a couple of years ago, Google developed an anti-diversity policy, which infuriated staff. The policy argued that Google should drop any attempt to include different cultures and gender into their workforce. If you’re interested to know what these guidelines include, here’s a look:

  • Be responsible. What you say and do matters. You’re responsible for your words and actions and you’ll be held accountable for them.
  • Be helpful. Your voice is your contribution — make it productive.
  • Be thoughtful. Your statements can be attributed to Google regardless of your intent, and you should be thoughtful about making statements that could cause others to make incorrect assumptions.

Is there anything wrong with these guidelines though? Some are making the argument that telling staff to “avoid controversies that are disruptive to the workplace” makes staff feel like they don’t belong. But is that really the worst thing you can hear from your employer? I mean, I’ve worked for organizations that have said worse. In fact, I’ve worked for organizations who had more guidelines around what staff can and cannot say in public.

While some people might think that these guidelines are attempting to put people in their place, and squash their voices, the truth is they’re a written reminder that people should be nice. Even if you don’t agree with what your coworkers believe, in terms of their political views, why is it so hard to get along? Maybe that sounds like a pie in the sky kind of view, but I think it’s a fundamental subject that most people are lacking.

Google’s policy also stipulates:

“While sharing information and ideas with colleagues helps build community, disrupting the workday to have a raging debate over politics or the latest news story does not.”

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