By Natalie Tran, Co-Founder of Civic Alliance and Executive Director of the CAA Foundation, & Steven Levine, Co-Founder of Meteorite and Director of Civic Alliance
2022 is a consequential year for making our communities stronger. Coming at a pivotal moment for our democracy, every voter in America will have the opportunity to cast a ballot to shape the direction of our country in the 2022 midterm elections: Together we will decide on every seat in the U.S. House, along with a third of U.S. Senate seats, governors in 36 states, and local leaders nationwide.
As we embark on the year ahead, there has never been a better time for companies to take civic action that not only builds stronger bonds with consumers and employees but also strengthens our democracy.
Whether this is your company’s first foray into civics or you’re looking to deepen the impact of your existing programs, here are 22 ideas for corporate civic engagement in 2022:
1. Start at the top: An endorsement from your CEO or company leadership goes a long way in solidifying your company’s values and policies around civic engagement. Encourage leaders to share why they vote, in a memo, a town hall, or a video to employees and lay out the importance of civic action this year.
2. Offer time off to vote: Establish a policy for both salaried and hourly employees that offers time off to get to the polls. This could look like a bank of ‘civic hours’ available to employees on or before election days, a paid company holiday, a flexible schedule, or even hosting a ‘no meetings days’ for elections.
3. Set a steady rhythm of communications: Build civic engagement and voting into your company communications calendar to keep participation top of mind for employees. Invite all departments, teams, and managers to include civic reminders in their outreach.
4. Point people to easy guidance: With elections taking place in every state and the District of Columbia this year, educate your employees and external audiences on when to vote. Direct them to iamavoter.turbovote.org where they can sign up for text notifications about every election they are eligible to participate in and get help registering to vote and voting by mail.
5. Make use of free tools: Find ways to incorporate civic tools into messaging to help your employees and external audiences register to vote, find their polling place, preview their ballot, vote early, understand their state’s voting rules and check their local voter ID laws.
6. Empower internal champions: Enroll your employee resource groups to serve as internal champions and ambassadors, empowering them to elevate voting and activate your company civic programs.
7. Make Election Day a company day of service: Consider incorporating poll working opportunities into a volunteer program or offering paid time off to those who serve as poll workers. Join Civic Alliance’s Election Day of Service, and promote Power the Polls to employees nationwide to learn about poll working and how to apply.
8. Donate products/services: Consider donating products or services as part of your Election Day of Service initiative to support elections operations. In 2020, companies donated much-needed PPE to poll workers and election facilities. Businesses can continue this trend by donating products that support the operations of the polls, like hand sanitizer, masks, pens, snacks and more.
9. Offer space to vote: Consider donating lobbies, warehouses or other space at your location to serve as a ballot dropbox location or polling place. In 2020, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks were the first professional sports team to transform their arena into a socially distanced polling site. Nearly 40,000 Fulton County voters cast their ballots at the State Farm Arena, making it the state’s largest-ever voting precinct.
10. Publicly support democracy: Release public statements connecting your company’s values to civics. Amplify your support and commitment by signing joint statements with other like-minded businesses to build momentum for voting access and civic engagement efforts.
11. Help employees know their representatives: One key to being civically engaged is to know who represents you. Changes caused by state redistricting will make that even more important this year. Direct employees to usa.gov/elected-officials to find their elected officials.
12. Integrate voter registration: Find opportunities where paperwork is already being processed — like during onboarding for new employees or lease-signing for new renters — to include voter registration prompts and materials.
13. Host civic events: Use your physical or virtual spaces to host civic events like ‘voting 101’ sessions, town halls with elections officials or civic experts, registration drives, or nonpartisan text/phone banking to increase voter turnout.
14. Reward civic engagement: Consider creating an award or recognition program for employees who are civically involved or others who represent your corporate civic values.
15. Shorten store hours on Election Day: Delayed retail openings or early closings not only allow employees to participate, but this public move can inspire customers to get out and vote while building brand loyalty.
16. Mark your calendar: National holidays and commemoration periods, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Women’s History Month in March, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, serve as great opportunities to link company values like inclusivity, representation and service to civic education that inspires participation among your audience.
17. Celebrate National Voter Registration Day: Registering to vote is the first step for new voters, and in most places, you have to register prior to Election Day. Encourage your employees to register to vote with a big splash on National Voter Registration Day, September 20th. Engage employees by sharing voter registration information in meetings, town halls, or by hosting a panel. Learn more here.
18. Celebrate Vote Early Day: Voting early, either by mail or in-person, allows voters to cast their ballots before Election Day, reducing lines and wait times, and offering voters greater flexibility. This year, Vote Early Day is October 28. From a simple email reminder to elaborate early voting celebrations, companies have a wide range of options to celebrate Vote Early Day.
19. Shout it out: Expand the reach of your messaging about civic tools and the how-to’s of voting by including civic resources in your products or services, on your packaging or email campaigns, in your social media content, and even on receipts.
20. Launch a civic digital platform: A one-stop digital shop for employees and customers to get civic information can help drive voter turnout. As an example, check out Civic Alliance member Starbucks’ civic digital platform here.
21. Integrate tools in your website or app: Make use of your brand’s website or mobile apps to creatively present civic tools, voting dates, deadlines, and election reminders. Pop-up windows are a great way to share election reminders.
22. Fund civics: Incorporate civic organizations into your giving portfolio. Consider donating to civic and civil rights organizations that align with your company’s culture and values. And don’t forget to regularly evaluate your philanthropic donations and political contributions against your company’s stated values to assess both risk and opportunity.