How to Be an Activist Without Putting Your Job at Risk

Are you adding value, or just blowing off steam?

In today’s political climate, trying to remain P.C. can feel like a full-time job. Whether you’re an employee at a large organization or own your own business, you are an extension of that brand.

So it’s important to be aware of what you are saying to the world, not only to remain on-brand but also to remain in a job.

Don’t tamp down those things that you believe in the most; those are the main things that make you you. But it’s important to be aware of how, when, and where you express them. Here are some tips for fueling that fire responsibly:



Speak Up, Don’t Put Down

Speaking up about causes you care about doesn’t mean you have to put down others you don’t. You never know how a colleague or client might feel about a particular issue, and you don’t want to inadvertently attack those beliefs if you can help it.

Stick to what you believe in in the affirmative, instead of bashing in the negative. For example: “I believe strongly in the value of technology to educate children about the world around them,” instead of, “anyone who thinks we need less ‘screen time’ is an idiot.”

Provide Added Value

We tend to get pretty fired up when talking about causes we care about — that’s the whole point. But before going off on a political rant or comment bashing someone else’s views, think about what you are adding to the conversation. Are you adding value, or just blowing off steam?

Do you have the expertise, additional resources, or perhaps an illustrative anecdote to contribute that would educate others about the cause? Share, publish, and amplify messages that are proactive, and look for solutions. You’ll get a two-for-one — you better support your point while informing others, too.

Avoid Partisanship

Unless you work directly for a political office or partisan-affiliated advocacy group, use caution when posting or sharing things that have a directly partisan point of view. I know what you’re probably thinking: “Doesn’t everything these days take a partisan point of view?”

Maybe so, but when possible, stick to the issue rather than the party with which it might be associated. For example, if you are passionate about climate change and environmental issues, shout it from the rooftops! But focus on the policies around that issue, rather than the specific parties involved.

Consider Your Audience

When sharing on social media, consider who is going to see a particular post. Is it viewable to just close friends, friends of friends, an entire network, or maybe even the general public? Tailor each post to a specific audience to maximize impact while avoiding, say, your boss seeing something that could be damaging to your work persona.

If you’re not sure, consider making your account private so that you can vet who sees what. Just remember: Anything you post online, even to a private account, can be screen-grabbed and shared. So while a private account will give you an additional layer of scrutiny, you should still exercise due diligence when considering what to share.

Encourage Action

It’s all too easy to hide behind a computer screen, getting sucked into message boards and Facebook feeds, arguing your cause. Instead, get out there and take action (and encourage others to do so, as well).

Donating to your favorite cause is one way to get involved, but consider donating your time instead. Through volunteering for a cause you care about—whether it’s calling your local legislators or walking in a march or providing someone with a safe escort—you’ll learn more about that cause and build a network of others who care about it, too.

Large demonstrations are great, but I’m all about helping people out one-on-one, too. Offer to be a mentor, confidant, or advocate for someone affected by your cause. It’s a small way to make a big difference.