Thursday, November 01, 2012

Political Intervention is Bad Business and Unethical

As a graduate of the Richard T. Farmer School of business I can tell you that I never learned it was a good business practice for a company, any company, to try to influence its employees' votes in an election. Why? For the same reason it is not a good reason to tell your employees what church they should go to. The head of Cintas, Scott Farmer, sent an email to Cintas employees that made it pretty clear how they should vote. It was the wrong thing to do. It creates a hostile workplace, literally. I would resent my CEO if he told me how to vote. The only thing the head of my company has ever done is to encourage us to vote and pass out League of Women Voters guides, the most non-partisan voter guides around.

A sane business manager worries about about attracting a large numbers of customers. A good business manager does not care how that customer votes, as long as they buy the product.  A good manager also attracts the best talent to work for them to attract those customers.  Voting choices don't determine job abilities.  It is a clear problem when bad managers state directly or imply success for employees depends on voting choices.

I don't know if it is egomania, fear, or ignorance that would cause Scott Farmer to cross this ethical line.  All I know is that he crossed it, and is showing he is not a good business manager.  I hope all of the current Richard T. Farmer school of business students pay attention.  If they like what they see in Farmer's actions, they should get an F in the capstone management course we all took as seniors.

So what do we know: at least a few CEOs feel fear from not having complete control over the government. If any Cintas voters were not put off by this, I hope they at least lose respect for their CEO. He obviously doesn't respect the rights and choices of the employees.

Richard T. Farmer's son, Scott, appears to not have learned enough at Miami. I fear that he learned too much from his father on the subject of politics, so that is clouding his judgement.

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