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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In the next 78 days, between the election and the inauguration, politics will become increasingly difficult to avoid at work. Many companies aren't shying away from that.

The big picture: This election cycle marks a turning point for Corporate America. Instead of focusing solely on profits and growth, companies are wading into social and political debates — betting that the future of the workplace is headed that way.

"It’s the first thing you’re taught in business," says Asher Raphael, CEO of Power Home Remodeling, a Pennsylvania-based home improvement company. "No politics and no religion. But that rule is outdated."

What's happening: This year, more than 1,700 companies gave employees paid time off to go to polls. For many of those firms, it was a first.

  • Will Bondurant, CFO at San Francisco-based Castlight Health, which is providing Election Day paid time off, says that his company has attempted to encourage voting by creating a Slack thread for people to post voting selfies, share resources with information on how to vote, and invite staff to share personal stories on the importance of voting.
  • "We think this is the right thing to do, but we hope it has a positive business impact in terms of hiring and retaining talent," Jonathan Neman, CEO of Sweetgreen, tells me about his company's decision to give time off on Election Day.

But it's far from over. Now companies will have to navigate weeks — or even months — of a chaotic political climate that will undoubtedly bleed into the workplace.

  • The signs are already there. 44% of HR professionals observed intensified workplace political volatility — defined as increased tension, hostility or arguments between employees over politics — in 2020, compared with just 26% in 2016, per a recent survey from the Society for Human Resource Management.
    • But, but, but: A whopping 80% say their organizations have notset guidelines regarding how to talk about politics at work. "That's a problem," SHRM president Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. says.
  • And the pressure is on. Nearly three-quarters of workers expect their CEOs to have a response plan if the election's outcome is unclear or contested, according to a new Edelman study.

That shouldn't scare CEOs who've been paying attention to office culture, says Raphael.

  • "The workplace is actually the perfect place to have these conversations," he says. "Part of the problem in the larger political environment is that the humanity is lost."
  • "But if you haven’t developed a culture in which people have a deep sense of belonging and care for one another, it’s hard to have a productive discussion about politics."

The bottom line: Says Kesi Lumumba, a public relations professional in D.C., "I think there's a catharsis in talking about everything that's going on, regardless of political affiliation."

Go deeper: CNN"s Kathryn Vasel has a useful read on how to talk politics at work without getting into trouble.

Go deeper

Coronavirus pandemic brings boom times for swaths of corporate America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Not only are corporate earnings coming in above Wall Street’s expectations, but a large swath of corporate America is making more money now than before the pandemic hit.

By the numbers: Earnings season is nearly over. Of the companies that have reported quarterly results, 52% saw bigger profits compared to this time last year, according to data provided to Axios by FactSet.

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Here's key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford University's 90%-effective vaccine — New deals in the COVID economy.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 coronavirus deaths — Americans line up for testing ahead of Thanksgiving.
  3. Travel: Air travel's COVID-created future — Over 1 million U.S. travelers flew on Friday, despite calls to avoid holiday travel.
  4. Politics: California governor and family in quarantine — Sen. Kelly Loeffler to continue quarantine — Operation Warp Speed leader: COVID vaccine push is "isolated from a political environment."
  5. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. coronavirus hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  6. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  7. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.

Biden transition names first Cabinet nominees

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden on Monday unveiled his nominations for top national security positions in his administration, tapping former secretary of state John Kerry as his climate czar and former deputy national security adviser Avril Haines as director of national intelligence.

Why it matters: Haines, if confirmed, would make history as the first woman to oversee the U.S. intelligence community. Biden also plans to nominate Alejandro Mayorkas to become the first Latino secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.