The No-Brainer Case for Making Election Day a Company Holiday
Caring about society — and giving employees and customers a clear example of how you care — is good for business.
Welcome to Buy/Sell/Hold, Marker’s weekly newsletter that’s 100% business intelligence and 0% investment advice. Each week, our writers Steve LeVine and Rob Walker make sense of the most important developments in business right now — and give them a Buy for clever moves or positive trends, a Sell for mistakes or missed opportunities, or a Hold if they’re noteworthy but too early to call.
🗳️ Why businesses should help get out the vote 🗳️
The Buy/Sell/Hold Analysis
Business has long embraced voting — historically, the one truly uncontroversial political act — encouraging us via various advertising methods to participate in the electoral process. “No matter what they sell or how they sell it,” Amanda Mull wrote recently in The Atlantic, companies “seem to be comfortable marketing themselves as advocates of democracy and civic engagement, so long as their customers are willing to do the heavy lifting.”
But it turns out that this year, like everything else in our lives, voting looks a little different. Maybe because months of racial-justice protests forced companies to recalibrate their relationship to social issues, or maybe because democracy just seems fragile lately, we may finally be at a turning point in how companies respond to election day. Hundreds of companies, including giants like Walmart and Starbucks and Coca-Cola, are giving workers paid time off (from a few hours to the entire day, depending on the firm) to vote. Others, including Microsoft, Target, and Old Navy are encouraging employees and customers to serve as poll workers. According to Time To Vote, a nonpartisan campaign launched by Patagonia, Levi Strauss, and PayPal, more than 700 companies have pledged to give workers time off to vote.
The corporate-backed groundswell makes sense: It’s good publicity. For many, it’s not that hard to pull off. The evidence suggests business can genuinely help address a legitimate problem, since nonvoters often cite work conflicts as their reason for not getting to the…