There's some current dialogue about some big tech companies (google, twitter, facebook) displaying some bias in their actions. Whether that's true or not, it certainly seems that the composition of those companies' workforce leans heavily left.

There are other industries or companies that also seem to slant heavily left or right; for example, journalists lean heavily to the left while industries from the farming, fossil fuel and construction sectors lean right, according to donations to parties in USA (see this link for more details - the IT sector leans somewhat left). Are there any good studies that explain why this happens? It seems odd that certain jobs would appeal to people based on their political preferences, but perhaps that happens. Perhaps one's profession influences one's political beliefs? Or perhaps there's a founder effect, and that as industries grow, people join (and remain with) companies that have a compatible belief structure?

To sum up: I'm asking if there's any good research pointing to why so many organizations' workforces tend toward one extreme or the other, instead of representing a statistical mean of the population. I'm especially interested in organizations that aren't innately political in and of themselves, but where the shift happens more organically.

  • 4
    Welcome to Politics, if you want to limit your question to the US, please add the United-States tag. It would also help if you could add a source supporting that some industries seem to lean left or right as this seems to be a premise in your question.
    – JJJ
    Aug 30, 2018 at 0:08
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    This question is full of assumptions and misconceptions. The big one is the assumption that companies "political voices" are based on the political makeup of their employees. That's sometimes true. But more often than not, not true at all. But the big misconception is that workforces lean to one extreme or the other. That's rarely the case (aside from perhaps a few small businesses focused on very niche products and services).
    – user1530
    Aug 30, 2018 at 0:20
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    What makes you think Finance is right-leaning? In 2008, they supported the Democrats over the Republicans. Except in 2012, they have generally been rather balanced. The sectors with the most support for Republicans tend to be traditional Energy (as opposed to Green Energy), Transportation, and Agribusiness in recent presidential elections. For Democrats, Labor, Lawyers & Lobbyists, and Communications/Electronics.
    – Brythan
    Aug 30, 2018 at 0:37
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    I found these two articles about the political tendencies of every profession: businessinsider.com/… and verdantlabs.com/politics_of_professions Both state that IT workers lean left, but finance leans only slightly to the right. They could help you to justify your premises. Aug 30, 2018 at 0:42
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    Not a complete answer so not posting as such, but the rural/urban divide jumps out as the biggest factor. Large news organizations and tech companies are generally found in cities, which are generally more blue, while mines and farms are found in rural areas, generally more red. Not the only factor by any means, but given the political makeup of people by region it follows that the businesses in a given region would be populated by people who reflect that region.
    – Gramatik
    Aug 30, 2018 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


Despite some valid points in comments on the question regarding assumptions, I think this is an interesting topic so I did some research and found a spectrum of articles and data. Let's parse this out a little...

Leanings of employees

First, let's focus on "any good research pointing to why so many organizations' workforces tend toward one extreme or the other, instead of representing a statistical mean of the population." It seems you're most interested employees rather than their boards and lobbying decisions.

Based on what I found, I'm not sure so many employees do tend towards one extreme or the other. I think we sometimes have the impression they do due to decisions made by the executives at a company but this might not actually represent the way their workforce's views. One obvious example is how many companies executives are anti-union but clearly their workers who are trying to unionize don't feel the same way.

Anyway, here are some actual articles and data...

  • One way of measuring the way employees lean is by their donations. This, however can be skewed by more well paid employees who donate a lot.
  • A more direct approach of measuring this would be surveys of employees but these can be flawed by factors like self selection, fear of retaliation and executives simply blocking the survey from being conducted in the first place.
  • Another would potentially be extrapolating from external views of the company. You could narrow the data based on where employees are located and then try to account for some percentage of people avoiding the company due to their political views.

Clearly none of these approaches are perfect, but the second one seems like it would best answer your question. However while I'm sure there's been some surveys like this, I couldn't find any public ones.

In terms of the why aspect of the question here are some articles that attempt to explain it for tech, however I found very little data-driven research on it...

Leanings of executives and board members

There seems to be a lot more data and research on this group, maybe because there's more pressure on them -- especially recently -- to make their views public...

The high of a percentage of independents in some cases stand out as well as what the data seems to indicate about different leanings per gender.

Company lobbying and donations

Last but not least, and maybe the most plentiful in terms of actual data, you can find a lot about companies' lobbying spend and donations. This is likely because there are laws requiring that data to be public. Keep in mind though, this does not necessarily reflect each company or industry's employees' views...


Any bias displayed in the company is most likely just a marketing action, co-ordinated by the marketing department. All studies that could be done here are just marketing studies. Oil companies sometimes demonstrate very green views that do not correspond with what they do, this is called greenwashing. Similarly a company that mostly writes closed source software may advocate itself as an open source supporter in some context. Or, in a bicycle shop, if its written on a wall "we all are mad on cycling", this may or may not reflect the actual views of the current staff.

Normally each employee is allowed to have one's own political and religious views that may sometimes be moderately discussed over a cup of coffee if nobody complains but the most you can ask for is for them to keep them to themselves. Notably, Russian and Ukrainian sailors are capable of working friendly in the same ship by implementing the taboo policy, what should not be talked about.

  • So you're arguing that workforces all have the same political composition as society and as each other? Or are you saying that we can't know the political composition and therefore should not discuss it or try to investigate it? On a basic level it would be surprising if most coal miners did not want coal mining to continue, teachers wanted less spending on education, farmers wanted fewer subsidies, etc but you're saying working in an industry has no effect on your political beliefs?
    – Stuart F
    Dec 19, 2022 at 14:48
  • They are likely to be biased to believe that they profession does make sense but unlikely to have lots of bias on the views that are less direct. They would have some composition of views that are typical for that layer of the society, so not beggars, not business owners either. If the company is really "self segregating politically", I mean, hide your political views like a spy in the camp of the enemy needs to do or get fired, such a company should receive some attention if they are not violating any laws.
    – Stančikas
    Dec 19, 2022 at 16:57

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