Wayfair says CEO’s comments about ‘non-political’ employees were ‘misinterpreted’

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah.
Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah. Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Boston-based Wayfair said Friday its CEO was “misinterpreted,” after Niraj Shah reportedly told a panel of speakers Thursday that his company looks for prospective employees to be “non-political.”

Shah’s comments, made during a panel discussion at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, came three months after hundreds of employees walked out of the online home furnishing retailer’s Boston offices to protest its business relationship with a federal government contractor involved in running detention camps for migrants.

Shah was asked at the event what he looks for in job candidates, and he replied that one of the traits of a successful employee was “cultural fit,” according to the Boston Business Journal.


“We’re generally just looking for people on two sets of criteria. One, it’s just that . . . they’re incredibly talented. They’re intelligent, quantitative. Just that we think they have the raw material to really succeed and we feel confident,” Shah said, according to the paper.

“The second thing we look for — equally important — is the cultural fit. So we’re bringing in non-political, you know, highly collaborative, just very driven and ambitious.”

Reached for comment Friday, a Wayfair spokesperson said in a statement that Shah was mischaracterized.

“Our CEO’s comments from the event were misinterpreted and inaccurately positioned in this story. We seek employees who are collaborative and focused on positive interaction in the workplace. He was in no way referring to politics at large. Our culture, of course, welcomes and respects all viewpoints and perspectives and we are proud to have employees that engage in the greater community,” the spokesperson said.

Hundreds of Wayfair employees took to the streets in June to protest the company’s decision to sell furniture to a government contractor that ran detention camps at the southern border. The protest came amid a broader backlash against the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants fleeing Central America, with many facing overcrowded, underequipped facilities once they crossed into the United States, where they were sometimes detained for weeks.


Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @cprignano.