/ Asked by Stephanie
Many of my professors are saying free speech is dying on college campuses across the country. They believe university officials are trying to keep students safe from ideas that could be deemed negative or unsettling by someone. Are employers doing the same? When I graduate this spring, will I experience a similar attempt by my boss to shield me from distressing comments to keep me happy? Similarly, should I be concerned about being fired for offering an opinion or making a comment that someone else might perceive as distressing, even if that wasn't my intention?
Answered by Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., on Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Hi there - I'm going to answer this question from my own experience.  In my career I have held roles in companies of 5 people all the way up to 280,000 people.  I have found it important to be collaborative, honest, curious and brave in all of my jobs.  This doesn't take away from the need to also be a team player, aware of company needs and always looking for areas of improvement.

Your future employer has responsibility to their employees, their customers, potentially their shareholders and their communities.  Organizations are all going to handle those responsibilities differently depending on the structure and needs of their business.  Depending on the industry you are working in, negative or unsettling concepts may be part of your experience.  If your job is to look for ways to improve high school graduation rates, feed hungry people, manage assistance programs or one of the many issues facing so many people at this time, you may come up against challenging concepts.  Shielding you from the facts of what you're facing is not going to help you work towards solutions.

Now, part two.  Many businesses have a code of business conduct.  It will pull together the ideals and expectations of your organization when it comes to things like working with your peers, customers, clients etc. The conduct expected of me is to treat my peers, customers, clients etc. with respect and consideration.  Using that as my baseline has helped me avoid distressing anyone with my conduct.  I am always welcome to offer my opinion, my ideas, my thoughts to better our business and the community of our organization.  It would be a disservice to me as a human being and my company as a thriving organization to be shielded from the realities of life and how they impact people on a daily basis.
Answered by Jamie, Hiring Expert at Worthington Industries, on Monday, March 7, 2016
It depends on the culture of the organization. Each company is different with different policies, procedures and values. Where I work, we have a very open culture that promotes employees to speak up. However, unfortunately there are many companies that aren't that way. I would recommend getting a feel for the culture during your interviewing experience to see if it's a good fit for you. Also, I would recommend steering clear of speaking about Politics and Religion in most organizations, at least until you've been employed long enough to know the culture. Good luck!
Answered by Rachel, Hiring Expert at Eaton, on Monday, March 28, 2016
That may be true, and unrealistic goal, but potentially true.  There is no way to ensure that you will never hear, nor say, something that may offend someone else.  Unless of course you are omniscient and omnipotent, in that case I would think that you would not be asking this question. 
There are two things that are important for you to note as you move into your new role with your company; those are the company culture and the company guidelines and policy.  If you are in a very freethinking company that encourages differing thoughts and ideas both personal and professional and they have company policies and procedures in place that support this then you may be able to be more free with what you share and with whom. 
For most mainstream companies you are going to want to be judicious in what you express and to whom, following the age old practice of not speaking about religion or politics at work.  Upon hire you should receive a copy and/or access to the company policies and guidelines, review these and speak with your HR representative to understand clearly what is and is not acceptable at your company.  Moving forward, ensure that you are following the guidelines and sharing in the context of work appropriate commentary.  It's not really about making yourself or others happy, it's about being realistic and understanding that everyone is there to do a job and focusing on conversational topics that do not add value to the work and are specifically geared toward gaining a reaction are not going to be beneficial to anyone at all, regardless of the intent.  Your intent is not as important as what actually happens as a result of your actions. 
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