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Woke Culture: Aussie Company Faces Backlash for Seeking a Non-Woke Employee

Woke Culture: Aussie Company Faces Backlash for Seeking a Non-Woke Employee

The rise of woke culture and the prevalence of strong political and social beliefs among employees have led companies to question whether embracing this trend is a positive move or a potential pitfall.

Discussions around political and social beliefs have become more prevalent than ever before in current society. The workplace, once considered a domain solely for professional interactions, has also been impacted by this shift.

Job Posting with a “Non-woke” requirement

Talks of woke culture in the Australian context came to the fore in August 2023 when a rural WA IT vendor, Wallis Computer Solutions, posted a job opening for a Melbourne-based MSP L2+ technician. The offer’s salary ranged from $65k to $90k and gave applicants a chance to work remotely or relocate to the company offices in Dalwallinu.

However, what set off online watchers was the job opening’s emphasis that the successful applicant must be a “non-woke” who “values diversity of thought”, has no need for pronoun usage and will not be forced to undergo medical treatment, including administration of COVID19 vaccines. Reactions shared in a local Reddit thread varied from excessive vetting by the company and such a person may be welcome as long as they remained professional and did their work well.

Woke Culture and Company Reputation Management

Woke culture, often associated with social justice advocacy and progressive political stances, has a profound impact on a company’s reputation. While embracing such culture can lead to positive outcomes, it can also carry risks that directly affect how a company is perceived by the public and potential customers.

When a company openly supports and promotes social justice causes and progressive values, it can gain favour with socially conscious consumers. This can enhance the company’s reputation and create a positive image, attracting a demographic that aligns with its stance.

On the flip side, taking a stance on controversial issues can invite backlash from individuals who hold opposing views. In the age of social media, negative sentiments can spread quickly, potentially leading to boycotts, negative reviews, and a tarnished reputation.

One pertinent example of this is the direction of Lucasfilm under Kathleen Kennedy, who’s been under fire for the dismal performance of the Star Wars franchise since Disney’s acquisition of the company in 2012 by promoting storylines with more female leads and forced diversity in characters, even more in the High Republic sub-franchise.

Companies that jump on the woke culture bandwagon solely for marketing purposes risk being accused of “greenwashing” or inauthentic activism. Consumers are increasingly discerning and can quickly identify when a company’s actions do not align with its stated values, leading to a loss of trust and reputation damage.

Pros of Hiring Woke Employees

  • Diverse perspectives. Diversity in thought can foster innovation and creativity, as individuals with different viewpoints challenge traditional ideas and offer fresh insights. This diversity can lead to more well-rounded decision-making and problem-solving within the organisation.
  • Increased employee engagement. Employees who feel their beliefs and values are respected by their employer are more likely to be engaged and motivated. When a workplace fosters an environment where employees’ opinions matter, they are more likely to invest themselves fully in their roles, leading to improved productivity and job satisfaction.
  • Top talents. Embracing employees with strong beliefs can help attract top talents that align with the company’s values. Job seekers often seek out workplaces that are inclusive and open to a range of viewpoints. By showcasing a commitment to diversity of thought, a company can establish itself as an employer of choice, drawing in candidates who share its ethos.
  • Positive workplace culture. A workplace that encourages open dialogue about political and social issues can create a positive and inclusive culture. When employees feel comfortable expressing themselves without fear of backlash, they are more likely to collaborate effectively, fostering a sense of unity within the organisation.

Cons of Hiring Woke Employees

  • Conflict and division. While diversity of thought can be beneficial, it can also lead to conflict and division if not managed effectively. Strongly held beliefs can create tensions among employees, leading to a toxic work environment that hampers productivity and damages morale.
  • Erosion of focus: Intense political and social discussions can take the focus away from work-related tasks. When these discussions dominate the workplace, employees may spend more time debating issues rather than concentrating on their responsibilities.
  • Negative impact on decision-making. If not managed carefully, a workplace dominated by strong beliefs can lead to biassed decision-making. When decisions are influenced by personal ideologies rather than objective analysis, the quality and effectiveness of those decisions may suffer.
  • Risk of discrimination and exclusion. An overemphasis on strong beliefs could inadvertently marginalise employees who do not share the prevailing viewpoints. This exclusion can lead to feelings of isolation and discrimination, ultimately impacting teamwork and collaboration.

Finding the Right Balance

In Australia, where the workplace landscape is influenced by a variety of cultural and legal factors, finding the right balance between embracing woke culture and managing potential pitfalls is crucial.

Establish clear guidelines for respectful communication around political and social issues in the workplace. Encourage open dialogue while emphasising the importance of maintaining a professional and inclusive environment.

Provide training that educates employees about diversity, inclusion, and respectful discourse. Equip them with the skills to engage in constructive conversations and navigate differences of opinion.

Remind employees of the common goals and objectives that unite the organisation. This can help shift the focus away from divisive issues and towards collaborative efforts.

If the company chooses to take a stance on certain issues, ensure that the decision is thoughtful, aligned with the company’s values, and supported by genuine actions.

A company’s reputation as a socially responsible and inclusive workplace can directly impact its ability to attract and retain top talent. Employees, particularly younger generations, are more likely to stay with or join a company that reflects their values and addresses societal issues they care about.

The debate around embracing employees with strong political and social beliefs in the workplace is multifaceted. While there are clear advantages to diversity of thought, the potential pitfalls should not be overlooked. Additionally, navigating the complexities of woke culture and its impact on company reputation requires careful consideration and strategic planning.

Striking the right balance and fostering an inclusive environment can help companies create a workplace that not only respects diverse viewpoints but also maintains a positive reputation in the eyes of the public and potential employees.

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DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute official career advice. UBOMI has no relationships with any company or organisation mentioned, nor endorse or condone woke culture.