“Scared to hire in today’s world? The labor market has changed. Your hiring should, too,” the advertisement said, next to an image of a young woman with an open mouth, a nose ring and magenta-colored hair.

The ad, which appeared on the website of the conservative humor site The Babylon Bee, was for a company called RedBalloon, billed as “America’s No. 1 woke-free job board.” But RedBalloon is not just for companies looking for workers. Its website promises job seekers that it will help them “find a good job that respects your values.”

Jobs listed on the site this week ranged from solar panel installer to dental assistant to software engineer. The Christian health-cost-sharing business MediShare had several openings, as did the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, and a personal security company that specializes in the protection of public figures. There were also several listings for Republican field organizers to help get out the vote in elections this fall, paying $18-20 an hour.

RedBalloon was started in 2021 by Andrew Crapuchettes, a tech entrepreneur who has worked for more than two decades in labor force analytics and who describes himself on X as “passionate about freedom.” His latest venture is part of what some call the “parallel economy,” the emergent network of businesses that market themselves to social conservatives.

While it’s open to debate whether America needs conservative-branded coffee or beef, or just wants it, RedBalloon is ascendant at a time when some employers are rightly concerned about whether young adults — the ideologically progressive in particular — will be a good fit for their company and its culture and image.

A recent article in Newsweek examined the growing generational divide in the workplace. As Suzanne Blake wrote, “While Generation Z might be entering the workforce en masse, hiring managers are not so eager to welcome the younger generation into their companies. Forty percent of hiring managers had an age bias against Gen Z candidates, and many employers are worried about how hirable an applicant is based on their age, according to a report from ResumeBuilder.com.”

Age discrimination, of course, is frowned upon, when not outright illegal. And of course, age discrimination affects older workers as well as younger ones. According to the same report, a third of hiring managers said they were biased against senior workers, who, unlike young Americans, are protected against age discrimination by federal law.

But it’s not so much age as it is values that are driving generational workplace tensions. Zoomers in particular have been typecast as undesirable workers, and widely circulated videos that show young Americans weeping about their jobs haven’t helped their collective image. Per Newsweek, “Nearly 80 percent of hiring managers said they worried about Gen Z’s lack of experience as a younger generation. The survey also found 58 percent were worried about the generation’s unprofessional attitude, and 63 percent expressed concern that they were known to job hop. And roughly one in two hiring managers also had doubts about Gen Z’s reliability and work ethic.”

There are also profound political differences at play, especially when young Americans publicly take stances at odds with the positions of corporations and the people who run them. An example is last year’s pro-Palestine demonstrations at Ivy League schools, which resulted in the distribution of names of involved students, and vows from some businessmen not to hire anyone involved. One law firm reportedly revoked job offers that had already been made to students who signed letters critical of Israel.

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In this fraught environment, RedBalloon, based in northern Idaho, seeks to offer assurance that neither job-seekers nor employers they represent espouse positions that are commonly labeled “woke.”

And yes, the “red” is a nod to red states, Isaac Lopez, the company’s communication director, told me. But it wasn’t the activism of liberal students that led to RedBalloon’s founding; it was more about concern about cancel culture, and about COVID-19 mandates and people who were losing jobs because they didn’t want to get the vaccine. The company has worked with about 4,000 companies, helping them to vet applicants and hire employees. And about 2 million job seekers have come to the website, where they can register and be notified of suitable jobs, Lopez said.

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While RedBalloon doesn’t have the massive databases of, say, Indeed or Monster, that’s sort of the point. It’s a specialized service for a specialized population. “The only value proposition we’re putting forward is, let’s get back to hiring the way we used to hire which is basically based off of merit,” Lopez said. “There are a lot of companies that are violating this in the name of DEI, by prioritizing someone’s non-negotiables, things that can’t change, like their hair color or their skin color or their heritage or the fact that they have a mom and a dad in a stable home. Those things are being discriminated against.

“What RedBalloon is saying is, no, you can’t post those in our job postings. I want to you to evaluate candidates based on whether they have the work experience, the skill fit, and whether they will be responsible people in your workforce, which is what companies have been doing for decades and decades.”

That means no questions are posed that sound like they were shaped by diversity, equity and inclusion practices, which are starting to come under fire after years of being championed in the workplace. Last fall, Reuters reported on a string of lawsuits challenging DEI policies in workplaces; the article quoted a Columbia University professor who said that “public and shareholder attitudes are in flux” about DEI. Even some practitioners of DEI have conceded that outcomes haven’t always met expectations.

While it may seem that RedBalloon’s approach might also invite a legal challenge, Lopez said that RedBalloon’s practices have been vetted by a team of attorneys to ensure that the company is in compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission standards. And for small businesses that want workers with particular values, it may well make sense to hire a company that can help them navigate a potential HR minefield. “Some employers are saying ‘I don’t even know what questions I can ask in interviews,’” Lopez said. “We’re offering them some peace of mind.”