The United States general election is less than two months away, and the country is reeling from months of pandemic-induced quarantining and protests. In this period of unprecedented social change, political activism is rarely a private affair. As corporate America finds its voice on a slew of social justice issues and Americans demand brand accountability, it’s important to remember that activism always begins with the individual. Here are simple actions for your already-busy team to consider taking as the election looms closer.
Find Those Who Are Passionate & Work With Them
While you may know who your strongest writers, researchers, pitchers, and salespeople are from your normal course of work, there may be impassioned movers and shakers in your midst who aren’t as easy to spot. Creating an open forum where employees can indicate their reform interests for both the company and beyond is a necessary first step that helps identify common concerns among the team.
For example: An employee may feel strongly about cannabis reform as a way to lessen incarceration rates, and it turns out the rest of the employees and C-suite leaders feel the same way. They collectively decide to include cannabis reform on the company’s social responsibility docket.
Provide Space & Support For Voting & Activism
Each state has varying laws regarding required time off for voting. At a minimum, allow your employees time off to vote, and write a policy into your handbook encouraging people to do so. If you are able to facilitate employee activism by allowing time off, donating money as a company, or leveraging your company’s skills, tools, and resources in support, it shows respect for both the individual and the cause they seek to further.
During election cycles, ballot initiatives and voter referendums like those to legalize marijuana present opportunities for classic campaigning strategies like handing out leaflets, phone banking, and going door-to-door. While these activities may look a little different this year due to COVID-19, there are still opportunities for employer support, such as providing supplies for voter registration drives.
Also, be sure your employees know voter registration deadlines or where to find them. The need for this was made clear when reports came out that only 20% of NBA players are registered to vote. HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project has a great tool that helps you verify your voter status and register if needed.
Use Your Brand Power To Appeal To Local News Sources
Write blog posts about social justice topics, as well as op-eds and “letters to the editor” to local news outlets. Better yet — pay impassioned employees to write them. They’ll be happy to do work they care about, and you’ll have internal content that sparks important conversations in your workplace.
If you’d rather outsource the work, be sure to find an advocacy-based marketing agency that will look to drive your social vision, not just your profit margin.
Don’t Stop Advocating When The Election Is Over
Use this time to listen to the concerns and passions of your team, and include them into your long-term plans. In many ways, a workforce is one of the strongest social contracts in which we participate, and it presents a unique opportunity to not only love where we work, but believe in the principles that place of business represents. Your business, employees, customers, and society will benefit from you continuing these practices beyond this November.