I absolutely love to vote. When I step into that voting booth, it’s a true pleasure to know I’m doing my civic duty. In fact, my all-time favorite accessory is an “I Voted” sticker.
But frankly, that’s all easy for me to say as a CEO. As the boss at fashion company Leota, I can step out of work when I choose -- and that’s true of most senior managers too. What about the guy answering the phones? Or the gal unloading the freight? For many, many American workers, it isn’t so easy to duck out of work for an hour or two.
That’s why I’m joining the CEOs of Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, Beautycounter, and more in the Time to Vote campaign: a new nonpartisan, business-led effort to increase voter participation on Election Day.
The U.S. has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the developed world, and it’s even worse for midterm elections compared to presidential. Most non-voters say they are too busy to vote, which isn’t surprising when one considers the challenges: long work days and lack of affordable childcare are at odds with long lines at the polls, limits on early voting, and other obstacles. I believe Election Day should be a federal holiday so that we may all have equal access to vote. But we’re not there yet.
Until then, companies are responsible for making voting accessible for their employees. That means business leaders are tasked with setting the tone: We must make clear that voting is encouraged and that the business will support staffers, not punish them, for doing their civic duty.
This is why I’m so proud to join Time to Vote. The campaign highlights CEOs’ responsibility to our employees, and at Leota, we’re taking that duty seriously. This Election Day all of our staffers can take a half-day paid in order to vote – and to help ensure people take advantage, we’re keeping the day completely clear of meetings.
That’s what we’re up to at Leota, but I’m calling on all CEOs to join us in the Time to Vote movement in a way that works for their companies. As leaders, we are hyper-focused on objectives and what’s best for the business, but every Election Day is a brief moment when business must align with national interest. We should not only allow but encourage employees to take time to exercise their rights to vote.
Vote on November 6 – and help your staffers do so too, if you’re in a position of responsibility. The work will be there when we get back from the voting booth.