Paid Leave, Free French Fries: How American Companies Win Votes

Bank of America is offering employees up to three hours of voter voting this year. Spirits company Diageo North America has declared a non-meeting day on November 3rd. Best Buy closes until noon that day, and PayPal offers half-day paid workers to volunteer at polling stations.

Within two weeks of the general election, American companies awaken their citizens and thousands of voters participate by providing workers with paid leave, voter education tools, and interactive sessions on how elections work. Is encouraging. Some also offer marketing and free legal advice to local election commissions and non-profit voting groups.

“Companies can’t do everything, but they can function in civil society in ways that really help promote and enable public participation,” said Franz Paasche, PayPal’s Head of Business. I am. There, the effort hosts a series of speakers from paid vacation to elections.

Two years ago, when executives from PayPal, Patagonia and Levi Strauss founded Time to Vote, there was a nonpartisan project that encouraged companies to participate in workers’ elections, with about 400 members. In the last few weeks, the number of members has exceeded 1,700. A similar initiative, called A Day for Democracy, has attracted more than 350 companies since it was launched in July with seven companies in the Boston region. Sponsored by the non-profit organization, has collected pledges from more than 800 companies that promise to pay their employees time to vote.

Most companies quickly say that their goal is not to step into politics or hire a particular candidate. Rather, many executives said the vote was inspired by the recent upheaval that put issues such as racial and gender discrimination, economic inequality and climate variability at the heart of employees and customers. This is how to take it.

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“Black Lives Matter and public anxiety was a call to the CEO’s weapons in communicating corporate and civil behavior,” said Boston, who began the day of democracy with a commitment from Red Socks. Private Equity Executive, Peter Paranjan, said. Socks and Bank of America. “And I think that’s the big difference this year.”

Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs announced to workers for the first time that they would be off for up to half a day to vote for voters. Citi and Gap Inc. Other companies that have provided voter voting time in the past, such as, have announced that they will provide additional voter time and voter education resources as needed this year.

Given the record turnout expected this year, additional time may be needed. This can mean a long line and additional safety steps in the light of the pandemic. Diageo North America, which owns brands such as Guinness and Smirnoff, has, as expected, changed course to allow employees to take the time needed to vote without a written request. Previously, employees were given up to two hours of paid leave to vote, but they had to request it in advance. The company will also set up a team to call if workers have problems casting ballots, said Laura Watt, executive vice president of human resources.

Some companies generally want to increase turnout. Shake Shack presents free French fries to early voting customers. Clothing label Tory Burch designed a T-shirt with the words “VOTE” on it. The proceeds will go to I Am a Voter, a nonpartisan voting project. Coca-Cola has sent a team of marketers to create public service announcements on radio, television, and the importance of early face-to-face voting at bus shelters around her hometown of Georgia. Broadcast spots included the voices of Delta CEO Ed Bastian, Atlanta Hawks forward, Cam Reddish and other local celebrities.

Corley Kenna, who communicated in Patagonia and co-founded Time to Vote, took advantage of the additional benefits offered by her employer this year to work with her two colleagues at an election site in her hometown of Atlanta. She caught up with her work during the morning and afternoon shifts at the State Farm Arena and Southwest Arts Center this month.

Kena, a Democrat and environmental advocate who served as senior adviser to the State Department under President Obama, said:

Old Navy, Gap’s largest brand, said it would pay employees as voting workers in addition to the amount paid by the county election committee. Retailers said the policy wanted to increase the turnout of young clerk. Over 60% of them are between the ages of 18 and 29. Levi’s is an Instagram account environment and racial justice activist to extend the voting period to vote for voting workers training this year and talk about voting.

Promotion by retailers and restaurant chains is important because it is especially difficult for hourly workers to find time to vote. After health care, retail is the second largest private sector employer in the United States.

In addition to ensuring that their efforts are not considered partisan by the outside world, companies are also paying attention to how they communicate internally. Diageo North America holds weekly events with African heritage groups and women’s networks for elections, for example, discussing endangered issues for the community, but a “neutral way”. Said Watt. “We were very clear about being non-partisan or not having a particular view that was somehow leaning,” she said.

At PayPal, dozens of employees participated in the PayPal poll. This is a multi-faceted internal activity that directs people to polling stations and other voter information and sponsors election newsletters and guest speakers. A September 10 interview with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla on the voting process attracted 600 participants.

Still, not all companies are very aggressive. Amazon workers have failed to vote for voters, but have threatened to temporarily close their warehouses on October 31 if e-commerce giants don’t meet their demands. And on Thursday,, a digital platform that helps people register to vote online and provides information about polling stations, still promises to give workers vacation to do so. Not more than 20 companies called. Pew Research Center statistics in 2014 show that in the past, 35% of registered voters did not vote due to work or school conflicts.

Tory Burch, who has about 3,000 employees in the U.S., offered employees paid leave to vote when the founder wrote an editorial in 2016 recommending bosses from other companies to do the same. It was one of the few companies to do. At the time, some CEOs of Fortune 500 companies told Birch that they couldn’t keep up because they were considered partisan acts aimed at supporting Democratic candidates.

“It’s patriotic to encourage Americans to use their votes, not a democratic initiative,” Birch said, recalling the feedback as “notable.” This year, she closed all stores and offices on November 3rd, encouraging staff to volunteer as voting workers, believing that the goodwill of employees far outweighs the lost income.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said Thursday morning the importance of a smooth political process in a memo to employees reminding them of the option to take paid leave to vote for voters. I talked about.

“Peaceful and stable transitions of power, whether the president’s second or new administration, are characteristic of America’s 244-year history as an independent state,” Dimon wrote. The “tremendous passion and strong opinion” that has influenced the current race, respecting the democratic process, is the “top priority”.

Michael Corkery and Karen Weise contributed to the report.

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