How corporate America can protect democracy and its bottom line

Top Primaries Politics etc 042324 AP Matt Rourke

In the months leading up to the 2020 election, some of the most iconic brands and business leaders took what was then an unprecedented step for corporate America. 

Following mounting pressure from the public for companies to take a stand for democracy, business giants from nearly every industry launched a series of creative and sophisticated campaigns to boost voter registration and turnout — from offering employees paid time off to vote to encouraging employees to volunteer as poll workers to even opening their doors as early voting sites. 

This committed effort to support ballot access was a powerful reminder that in America, the right to vote is our most fundamental right, and it must not be a partisan issue. Indeed, in a moment where seemingly every aspect of our culture is being politicized, we need trusted nonpartisan voices to take a stand for the integrity of the process.

But flash forward four years, and far too many companies are sadly missing in action, despite that we’re only months away from a critical election. Political tensions have reached a fever pitch, disinformation about voting continues to run rampant and voters are looking for trusted sources of information to help them navigate this volatile environment. 

That’s exactly why businesses must use their nonpartisan platforms and step off the sidelines. Once again, the American people need business executives to place their companies firmly and publicly on the side of democracy. 

What does it mean for companies to step out in favor of democracy? We propose a simple solution: help expand the electorate by putting resources behind initiatives to register employees and customers, giving their employees paid time off to vote and using their voice of trust to promote the democratic process in the face of disinformation. 

Participating in nonpartisan efforts to support political engagement can help companies protect their bottom line while fulfilling their civic responsibility. 

All the experts and research lead to one conclusion: A healthy democracy is necessary for business success, and the stability of our democracy is at risk.

Economists tell us democratic countries have a 20-25 percent higher GDP per capita than non-democracies. Over 96 percent of executives agree that a well-functioning democracy is needed for a strong economy. The inverse holds true as well: 71 percent of CEOs are “very concerned” that geopolitical instability could harm sales of products and services. (Historically, executives have actually underestimated the negative impact that political extremism has on business.)  

In our experience, helping build an informed and empowered electorate is one of the most basic, yet most powerful ways to safeguard the foundations of democracy and the economy. In doing so, business leaders can use their trusted voices to cut through the noise and help Americans — particularly young Americans and voters of color — overcome new voting restrictions and ever-present voter suppression efforts. 

Evidence also shows that stakeholders reward organizations that lead with their values: 81 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a company’s products or services if it speaks out against restrictive voting laws, and 76 percent are more likely to work for a company that promotes democracy.

As voting rights advocates, our data repeatedly shows increased requests for nonpartisan voting and voter registration information in the days and weeks following high-profile political events. In other words, when the political environments are highly charged, voters actively seek out relatable, reliable sources of information about how to register and vote.

The best part is that the solution is straightforward. Executives can do a tremendous amount to protect democracy — and, therefore, their bottom lines — by offering paid time off to vote and actively promoting registration and polling information through company channels. 

Companies and their leaders are some of the most trusted voices in America. For the sake of our democracy and their own business interests, it’s time for them to step up to the plate again this election season.

Andrea Hailey is the chief executive officer of Tyler J. Hagenbuch is a social impact consultant and voting rights attorney.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top