With the impending 2018 mid-term elections, a coalition of companies launched a national campaign to boost turnout and encourage employers to give workers time off for voting. Over 100 companies signed on to the “Time to Vote” program, including Levi Strauss, Patagonia, Walmart, Southwest Airlines and Kaiser Permanente. The campaign began with a national ad from Levi’s, set to the Aretha Franklin song, Think. Americans are shown going to polling stations and it ends with: “It’s your voice. It’s your vote.”
Announcing the push, Levi Strauss said just 36 percent of eligible U.S. voters cast ballots in the 2014 midterm elections. To increase that “dismal” number, Levi’s pledged to give employees paid time off to cast their ballots — and challenged other companies to do the same. According to the company’s CEO, Chip Bergh, “This campaign isn’t about any particular party or candidate or issue — it’s about encouraging more people to vote without having to make the hard choice between going to work and going to the polls.”
Electionday.org is pushing a similar effort encouraging employers to make election day a company holiday. It cites several factors contributing to low turnout, from conflicts with work and school to long voting lines. Over 150 companies have signed on to its program, including Dropbox, Lockheed Martin and Stanford University. The organization says “Empowering employees to vote on election day is simple and impactful.
Increasingly, businesses are expected by their customers and employees to stand for something and support a cause. In fact, cause has quickly become one of the biggest and fastest growing segments in spending for brands in the US. According to the IEG Sponsorship Report, in 2018, brands are expected to spend over $2.1 billion in cause related marketing spends, which is up 4.4% from spending in 2017.
- The U.S. has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world, as low as 36 percent – people say they are too busy or have work and life demands that prevent them from voting.
- Lyft announced discounted rides on Election Day, and MTV announced a campaign to get friends to bring friends to vote (and celebrate) with +1 the vote.
- #VoteTogether is partnering with over 200 nonprofits to host thousands of events across the nation to increase participation at polling places.
Quests and Actions (Q&A):
- Do you plan to vote? Will you encourage ten or more of your friends to vote?
- Although talking politics in the office seems dangerous, can it be an opportunity to engage employees in how to communicate better and productively disagree with one another? Is the workplace a good place to train on civil conversations?
- Is encouraging employees to vote a way to show that management values them and cares about our society?