Greg Blatt is an executive and legal professional with over two decades of leadership experience. Beginning his career in corporate law, he went on to become general counsel for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and InterActivCorp (IAC). He has since led several companies under the IAC umbrella, serving sequentially as CEO of Match.com, IAC, Match Group and Tinder. Below, he provides insights on navigating political discourse in the modern office.
A company is a legal entity ultimately made up of its stakeholders: its investors, employees, customers, and even those in the community in which it operates. The odds of every single person within this group holding the same opinion on politics is infinitesimal, and yet organizations today are increasingly expected to actively participate and provide a place in the office for politics.
Greg Blatt says that while most executives would like to keep their companies out of politics, this is no longer a viable option. The days of compartmentalized opinions when it comes to politics is over, and even remaining out of the fray is seen as action through inaction, opening a company up to potential criticism. According to Blatt, the subject of politics in the office has gone from being a decision of ‘if’ to a question of ‘how.”
Amongst the many new and unfamiliar challenges facing the modern CEO, one of the biggest is how to navigate a world that is more politically-charged than ever before. Blatt says that a common mistake he has observed company leaders making is diving in too quickly and losing control over the situation as a result. Faced with uncharted territory, they become lost and hold the quality of political discourse to a lower standard than they ever would in business matters.
If it’s going to be part of your business, you should treat it like part of your business and make sure discussions are structured and informed. Blatt notes that one way he has ensured this in the past has been to establish a ‘culture committee’ within an organization. He recommends that leaders assemble representatives from across the company, and arrange a recurring weekly meeting during which time the floor was open for discussion.
In Greg Blatt’s experience, this exercise made those within the organization feel that their voices were being heard, but still upheld standards for how those discussions were operated. For example, any argument was required to be backed up by facts, and if they didn’t have them they would research them in the meeting to discover the accuracy of the statement. In Blatt’s words, ‘shouting slogans and organizing boycotts and walkouts may make for good activism, but it doesn’t really make for good decision-making.’
While this strategy does not alleviate the difficult decisions leaders must make in terms of what position their company will take on political matters, it does introduce a standard for discourse on the topic itself that will inevitably affect the company as a whole. Blatt says this can serve as a model for satisfying the needs of your company while remaining informed and making better corporate decision-making as a result.