We’re inspired by the positive trend over the last year of more and more businesses stepping up and speaking out on behalf of fair, equitable elections. This public stance on voting is largely new territory for companies that have traditionally kept political discussions out of the workplace. The right to vote is a nonpartisan issue deeply rooted in equity and inclusion — a key focus and core value for many organizations. This recognition is leading more companies to advocate for voting rights, voter engagement and voter empowerment as a way to activate their values or social impact commitments.
Voting Rights Under Threat
Voting rights is an equity issue because these rights remain unequal for American citizens, specifically Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) whose voices are being discriminated against through bold, systemic legislation intended to suppress their votes.
A 2013 Supreme Court decision removed a critical oversight provision of the Voting Rights Act designed to protect against racial discrimination. This change opened the door for states to implement new discriminatory practices, such as voter ID laws, that disproportionally impact voters of color. Other practices and tactics that create significant obstacles for BIPOC individuals such as gerrymandering, lack of voting sites and restrictive voter registration rules have also been put in place.
A groundswell of state-level voting laws were introduced and passed this last year under the false claim of voter fraud, contributing to even more voter suppression and discrimination. These laws directly target ballot access for BIPOC voters by creating challenges to in-person voting, limiting access to voting by mail and inventing new reasons to invalidate ballots cast. Litigation is underway to combat many of these new laws, but the volume and frenetic pace at which they are being enacted is alarming. Voting is a fundamental right for Americans. Our democracy depends on free and fair elections in which everyone has an equal voice regardless of race or gender identity.
Every Election Matters
Thousands of elections will take place across the country this fall. Because it isn’t a national election year, many will be overlooked despite results that will have a direct, negative impact on the day-to-day lives of BIPOC citizens. Local elections, while they garner less attention, impact funding for schools, parks, social services and infrastructure. Unfortunately, the low participation of eligible voters means an extraordinary unrepresentative set of residents will determine local leadership and policies.
The Opportunity for Businesses
Businesses have an important opportunity to increase voter turnout and support all people to make their voices heard in every election. Organizations can take actions such as:
- Sharing voter resources with employees and external audiences
- Granting employees paid time off to vote
- Promoting and encouraging volunteer opportunities
- Joining business community voting groups
- Offering incentives to employees who vote or volunteer to support voting in their community
- Making financial donations to voting rights organizations
Companies are in a unique position to make a significant difference on the issue of voting rights — and doing so is good for business. A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that organizations that chose to support get-out-the-vote efforts not only helped get more voters to the polls, but also experienced increased brand awareness and stronger employee engagement.
Employees expect businesses to lead with clarity and ensure company values guide policies, actions and strategic business decisions. Supporting and advocating for inclusive voting rights for all and fair, accessible and secure elections provides a critical opportunity for businesses to authentically live their values and drive positive change. And every organization — no matter what size — can make a difference. See how we’re activating this key part our social impact commitment at Beehive.
When businesses do better, we all do better. Learn more about voter equity and fair elections by exploring the nonpartisan resources below. And consider taking time to encourage and support your teams and communities to have their voices heard in local elections this fall.
- Civic Alliance: A non-partisan group of businesses working together to build a future where everyone participates in shaping our country.
- Brennan Center for Justice: A non-partisan law and policy institute that stands for equal justice and strives to uphold the values of democracy.
- Voting Rights Alliance: A non-partisan network of organizations, activists and legislators working to restore and protect voting rights.
- Fair Elections Center: A national, non-partisan voting rights and election reform organization working to remove barriers to registration and voting, particularly for disenfranchised, underrepresented and marginalized communities.