Artificial IntelligenceCryptocurrencyMetaverseCybersecurityTech Forward

Nextdoor CEO says Gen Z doesn’t want to work for companies that are silent on politics

April 1, 2022, 12:01 AM UTC

Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar says that companies will have difficulty recruiting young adults if executives abstain from taking public stands on politics and issues like racism.

Younger workers increasingly want employers that share their values, potentially leaving executives who ignore hot button issues at a disadvantage.

“First of all Gen Z, who’s coming up, they’re not going to work for you; like, honestly I just don’t think they’re going to join your company,” Friar said during a Fortune Connect virtual event about companies that steer clear of controversy. “I don’t think that businesses have a choice anymore.” 

“I know others don’t agree,” she added.

Indeed, while executives like Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff have publicly crusaded against various political measures, such as legislation that they deem to be “anti-LGBTQ, other executives have taken a different stance. 

For instance, Brian Armstrong, the CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbaseannounced in 2020 that his company would prohibit staff from discussing political issues deemed irrelevant to the company’s mission. Armstrong then offered severance to employees who disagreed with him—about 60 took him up on the offer.

Friar said that she gets “into these debates with Brian Armstrong and Coinbase” over the role of companies and politics. Armstrong, who Friar said she “kind of mentored,” is a “younger CEO trying to figure out his space” and he “believes like you shouldn’t touch this at all.”

“I think it is somewhat of a personal decision,” she said.

From her experience interacting with executives like CEO Doug McMillon of Walmart, where she is a board member, Friar has concluded that corporate leaders can’t remain silent. Customers and other stakeholders want to know your point of view, she said.

Friar added that executives must be sincere about their public stances and examine how they pertain to the business and its image.

She mentioned how the Black Lives Matter movement led to Nextdoor creating an automatic prompt that tells people that phrases like “blue lives matter” and “all lives matter” can be hurtful to people of color when users post them. Although Nextdoor lets people to post such phrases, the prompt is intended to make people give it some additional thought.

However, Nextdoor made the decision to prohibit people from writing the phrase “white lives matter” on their posts, because, Friar said, “that is just white supremacy at its worst.”

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.