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Promotions Conflict Diversity Career Planning

My manager's political views are very different from mine, and I am concerned that if he finds out, my chances for promotion are going to suffer. Whenever a group of us talk politics, such as at lunch, I nod and say very little. I'm not happy about this, but I don't want to hurt my chances to advance. Is there a better way to handle this?

Are you in a company whose leadership is waiting to pounce on any employees whose opinions differ from the established corporate line? No matter what else may be going on in the company, you should not plan on working in any firm where a self-imposed gag order is needed for survival. If you continue on this course, it is just a matter of time before something breaks, and that probably will be you. And, you will not have much fun along the way.

This means that your first step is to determine the accuracy of your perception about the company's tolerance for political views that differ from those of the topsiders. The indirect way to do this is to take a careful look at the employees who have advanced in the firm, and compare them with those who have either left the firm or had minimal upward mobility in it.

When you look at the management team, are there all kinds of varied descriptors that best depict them, or can you describe the whole bunch of them in just a few words? If they are a narrow group, your chances of success are narrower.

You can also consider taking a more direct approach to validating your perception. You don't have to stand on top of your desk and call a noon rally for your cause, but the next time you are in a political discussion, you should lose the gag, stop the nodding, and express some of your thoughts.

It will not take long for you to start receiving some signs as to whether your opinions have singled you out as an independent, confident, and self-assured individual, or as simply a troublemaker who does not fit into the corporate mold. Many progressive companies today place a premium on diversity and the vibrant, vital, and dynamic environment that it fosters. Once you determine whether your company encourages diversity or fights it, your decision will be an easy one.

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