Second Amendment Rights vs. Gun Violence: Workplace Polarization


The workplace reflects our culture

American workers’ perceptions of gun rights and gun violence reflect our current culture. I offer you some early data from Integral’s Employee Activation Index, along with my personal reflections. 

Amidst COVID-19, the U.S. faced another public health crisis: 2021 was a record year for gun violence in cities across the United States, with Chicago leading the way.  

The Harris Poll recently fielded Integral’s 2022 Employee Activation Index. One of our questions asked respondents to select up to five from a list of 26 societal issues which they felt were most important for their organization to make a positive difference on. 

Findings show that 10% of US employees selected Second Amendment rights among the top five issues, compared to 10% of US employees who selected gun violence among the top five issues.  

Most respondents, however, did not select either of these two options among the top five issues most important for their organization to address. Overall, the top two options were Employees’ good health and well-being (40%) and Job creation (32%).

Individuals who selected Second Amendment rights as a top five issue also care about those broader issues for all respondents, including Employees’ good health and well-being (28%) and Job Creation (28%).

In line with another finding, individuals who selected Second Amendment rights among their top five issues were more often male (61% in our 2022 Index findings). Partisan ideology and gun policy continue to divide our nation. 

Therefore, it is not surprising that the 2022 Index found that, for those individuals who selected “Second Amendment rights” among their top five issues, “Gun Violence” ranked 21 out of 26 issues. Conversely, for those individuals who selected “Gun Violence” among their top 5 issues, “Second Amendment rights” ranked 22 out of 26 issues.


Not just partisan, it’s personal

The recent May 14 mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket where 10 African American people were murdered in a targeted hate crime was the deadliest in the U.S. so far in 2022. It grieves me deeply that I had to write “so far.”

The random and horrifying NYC subway shooting on the Q train—which is my line, the line I take every day, the line that goes right to my block, to my home—is the fourth New York subway homicide of 2022. 

And the massacre at the Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas is the most deadly of the 27 school shootings that have taken place so far in 2022. This issue keeps rearing its abhorrent head. As a father myself, I am heartsick. The number of children killed by gun violence just keeps climbing.  

The friends and family of those murdered can’t help but bring their feelings to work.


How do we create a safe space for our employees? 

As we consider the impact of the larger world and important societal issues, organizations need to understand what their employees care about and value. This may require taking a nuanced look at how your company creates a safe space for your employees if they affiliate with targeted populations. 

Look, I don’t have a perfect recipe for what to do. 

In fact, members of my own team at Integral gave me candid feedback that my own response to the tragedy in Buffalo fell short. The feedback was fair. Yet it still pained me because of my own experience not long ago with a mass shooting that targeted members of my own identity group.

Five days after the deadliest attack on a synagogue in United States history in which eleven people were slaughtered, the synagogue where my four-year-old son, Avi, went to preschool was vandalized. The vandals wrote horrifying phrases suggesting that Jews are less-than-human and should be murdered.

I remember heading to work after dropping Avi off at school (where I now had to go through a metal detector and show ID to enter). Would my little boy be safe? To say I got little done at work that day would be a drastic understatement.


A willingness to listen and engage

I’m not saying your firm needs to advocate for gun control or anything else — but I do want to note that when communities are violently targeted based on their identities, the effect reverberates through our lives, including at work.

Recent research published by the Institute for Public Relations (The American Gun Violence Epidemic; How Can Companies Meaningfully Engage?) offers recommendations for communication and corporate leaders.  

There’s no perfect recipe for leaders at a policy level nor a personal level. But certainly, the ingredient list starts with compassionate listening, empathy, openness to feedback, and a willingness to step away from preconceived notions. 
I invite you to join me in trying to get familiar with resources offered by organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety, such as their Disaster Distress Hotline.


Belonging at the Intersection of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

A company’s success is driven by a successful workforce. That means creating a workforce where all your employees—regardless of stance on second amendment rights or gun violence—can belong, contribute, and collaborate in safety.


Join Us

Integral will release a full report of our Employee Activation Index in mid-summer 2022. This study, conducted by The Harris Poll, examines the experience, priorities, compensation, values, and viewpoints of 2,000 United States employees representing four generations across-section of industries, and company sizes.

Before the full 2022 Integral Employee Activation Index is published, we will continue reviewing and analyzing the 2022 Index results. In the coming weeks, we will share additional insights to help businesses improve the employee experience.In the meantime, follow us on LinkedIn and join our newsletter mailing list to get early releases of our 2022 Index findings.

Ethan McCarty
CEO
Ethan is the founder and CEO of Integral, an award-winning employee activation agency serving leaders of Communications, HR, Marketing and Technology at organizations global and local alike.

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