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Levi’s Chip Bergh Urges Other CEOs to Help Make Time for Employees to Vote

Levi’s is urging employers to give their workers time to vote in this year’s U.S. presidential election.

The heritage denim brand is calling attention to Time to Vote, a business-led initiative it co-launched in 2018 that makes it easier for people to cast their vote on Election Day. It encourages participating companies to offer things like easy access to voter information and paid time off on election day.

Levi Strauss & Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh, who in the past has been vocal about his stance on political issues such as gun rights and immigration, discussed the importance of voter turnout in a recent op-ed on CNN Business. According to Bergh, it’s the responsibility of the executives at the top of an organization to ensure employees have time to vote, and it’s especially important this year with all of the unprecedented obstacles associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even in the best of times, voter turnout in the U.S. is one of the lowest in the developed world, and it doesn’t help that many Americans struggle every election season to get time off work to vote,” he wrote to CNN. “That’s why I’m calling on all CEOs to give their employees time off to vote.”

Bergh added that vote-by-mail measures must be clearly communicated, and that state governments must have the necessary resources for making sure all votes are safely cast and accurately counted.

More than 600 companies have joined the Time to Vote initiative, including Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch and Madewell—completing more than half of its goal of reaching 1,000 by November.

Encouraging voter participation is nothing new for the heritage brand. In his piece, Bergh referenced founder Levi Strauss’ decision to close his business on election day in 1864 so that his employees could cast their vote.

Earlier this year, the brand also announced its support of Vote Early Day, and partnered with Vice media on a political docu-series and made a $1 million contribution from the Levi Strauss Foundation to drive political engagement within marginalized and disenfranchised communities.