This year’s midterm elections are just as crucial as a presidential election, with a lot at stake: the economy, recovery from the pandemic, advocacy for gun control, women’s rights, to name a few.
Natalie Tran, co-founder of the Citizen Alliance, a nonprofit that involves businesses in the voting process, wants Americans to vote. That’s why she liaises with private companies to increase engagement and make it easy for working Americans to take the time to participate in their civic duty.
“Normally, we see voter enthusiasm skyrocket in the presidential years and then decline in the interim years. We want energy for the presidential elections this year and every year,” she says.
As executive director of the CAA Foundation and head of the Civic Alliance, she actively works with companies on how they can play a role. She currently works with more than 1,250 companies, she says, ranging in size, demographics and geography — from small independents to Fortune 100 companies — through the Civic Alliance.
Examples include Microsoft, which she explains already has a program called Democracy Forward and is launching a new internal Civic Engagement Hub for employees to find voting information and get more involved in civic life. Starbucks helps employees find relevant issue-based town halls in their country and teaches people how Congress works, she says, through its citizenship literacy program. Lyft developed the LyftUP Voting Access program, which they’ve had for a few years now, offering free or highly discounted ride codes for 2022 primaries and midterms to nonprofit partners operating in communities where getting to the polls is challenging. to go to the ballot box.
“It’s part responsibility and part business opportunity,” she notes. “This is a high-impact by-election and will require commitment from every sector to ensure we have a strong and healthy democracy… this is a time for all hands on deck!”
She recently launched the Business Civic Playbookavailable on their website, which outlines examples of how companies have become more engaged and how others can follow suit, along with quotes and blurbs from business leaders explaining their rationale.
“We see this Playbook as a one-stop shop to help companies on their social journey, wherever they are. It guides companies in creating their own citizen plan by providing examples of action steps that companies can consider.”
Some brands have been doing this for years, giving employees time to vote, make public statements about social issues, and fight for public causes. But for those who haven’t thought about it yet, Tran hopes the book is a simple package to inspire and provoke action.
“We spent a lot of time researching and were guided by the team of experts at Democracy Works. We know that what is in the Playbook works and has an impact,” she enthuses.
Tran goes on to argue that publicly traded Civic Alliance companies on average were 6.5 percentage points more profitable and rose 2.2 percentage points higher. So can this really affect the bottom line? Perhaps.
But overall, Tran has seen mass mobilization for citizen efforts work — and that’s what motivates her to make voting easier and more effective. For example, in 2020, she recalls, there was a shortage of polling station members. She partnered with companies that are members of the Civic Alliance to meet that need: For example, Old Navy, she says, offered paid time off (8 hours) to employees chosen to work as pollsters. In total, they were able to recruit 750,000 candidates for polling station members with the help of the Alliance. “In this way we also bring in a new and younger generation!”
Plus companies like Live Nation, The Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group and others offered to conduct polls at their locations, she says.
The Playbook is free, and Tran hopes it will motivate businesses in some way this year — whether it’s creating a dedicated program on civic duty, giving employees time to participate, or going deeper. and help employees volunteer and become more active citizens.