Political Correctness in the Workplace: Striking the Right Balance
Updated: Apr 2
Political correctness has become a hot topic in recent years, with many people arguing that it has been taken too far. While political correctness intends to create a more inclusive and respectful society, some argue that it has become a form of censorship that stifles open and honest communication.
As a manager, it is important to consider political correctness in your decision-making and actions and avoid letting it constrain your workplace ethics or hinder productive operations.
One example of political correctness being taken too far is the so-called "flip-chart controversy," which occurred at a large American company. The issue revolved around the use of the word "flip-chart," with some arguing that the prefix "flip" was a racial slur against Filipinos and, therefore, was not politically correct.
This led to a lengthy and heated debate, with management exchanging over 32 emails on the topic. However, the reality is that most Filipinos probably wouldn't give a second thought to the prefix of the word "flip-chart." It is important for managers to see through such ridiculous attempts at political correctness and to stand up against them.
While it is crucial to be sensitive and respectful towards others and to avoid language or actions that could be hurtful or offensive, it is also important to recognise when political correctness is being used to shut down productive discussions or stifle creativity.
In today's society, many people will try to push you into making overly politically correct decisions, and it is your responsibility as a manager to see through these attempts and to stand up for your values and beliefs.
So, how can you navigate the complexities of political correctness as a manager? Here are some tips:
Educate yourself and your team about political correctness. It is important to understand the origins and intentions of political correctness and how it can be misused or taken too far. Providing education and resources for your team can help to create a more informed and respectful workplace.
Encourage open and honest communication. Political correctness can sometimes be used as a way to silence dissenting opinions or to avoid difficult conversations. As a manager, creating an environment where all team members feel comfortable speaking up and sharing their thoughts and ideas is important.
Foster an inclusive workplace culture. Diversity and inclusion are important values that should be embraced in the workplace. Encourage all team members to respect and value the differences of their colleagues and work to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and included.
Consider the impact of your words and actions. As a manager, it is essential to be mindful of the effect of your words and actions on others. Think carefully about the language you use and how others may perceive it. If you are unsure about whether something is appropriate, consider seeking guidance from colleagues or HR.
Don't be afraid to have tough conversations. While being respectful and sensitive, it is also important to have open and honest discussions about sensitive topics. As a manager, you are responsible for facilitating these conversations and ensuring that all team members feel heard and respected.
While it is important to consider political correctness in our decisions and actions, it is also important to avoid letting it constrain our workplace ethics or hinder productive operations. You are responsible for navigating these complexities and creating a respectful and inclusive workplace culture that fosters open and honest communication and collaboration.