This piece was written by Carmichael Lynch CEO Marcus Fischer.
In a democratic society, voting is the most important part of being a good citizen. This year at Carmichael Lynch and Carmichael Lynch Relate, we decided to also make it part of being a good company.
We know how important it is to take time to vote, and we also know how difficult it can be to make it to the ballot box — even in Minnesota where it’s a law that companies give employees the time that they need to vote. But rather than forcing our folks to choose between work, life and civic duty, or fretting over the time they’re spending, we decided to provide company-wide paid time off to make sure the voices of our 300 employees are heard. We’re calling it our Out of Office Into Office initiative.
We’ve always placed a strong emphasis on work/life balance, and voting is no exception. We teamed up with Time to Vote, a nonpartisan effort led by CEOs nationwide who are interested in increasing voter participation in the United States, which has one of the lowest rates in the developed world. As leaders of companies, and members of a democracy, it’s no longer enough to suggest and remind. It’s time to encourage by paving the way. This year marks the first time we’re making this move, but it won’t be the last. Because who you vote for is a partisan issue. That you vote is not.
And to us, providing PTO on Election Day is about a great deal more than just providing the time to vote. It’s about acting in a way that reflects who we are — and who we are always striving to be — as a culture. For a service business that operates on billable hours, this could appear to be a tough decision to make. But it’s one that we embraced without hesitation. Because we look at it differently. We see it as an action that fits our values of corporate citizenship and corporate culture. And creating the kind of culture that people want to be a part of — and feel like they have a role in — is an investment, not an expense.
Why do this now? Well, for starters, midterm elections see even lower turnout than presidential years. In 2014, eligible voter turnout was at just 36 percent — the lowest it’s been since 1942. Moreover, just half of millennials — a demographic with a nearly equal number of eligible voters to baby boomers — voted in the 2016 election. At our agency, millennials make up 61 percent of our employees, something that holds fairly true across advertising agencies. They’re also the demographic group that’s seeing the greatest changes in diversity and inclusion within politics and the workplace. Those are changes that our company is prioritizing both in our culture and the work that we put out into the world.
So, if you’re looking for us on November 6, you can find us at the polls. We hope to see you there.