A new Corporate Civic Playbook offers companies detailed instruction for increasing employee participation in the democratic process.
The guide, published by nonpartisan business coalition Civic Alliance, includes checklists, best practices and case studies from major brands and corporations that have successfully implemented strategies for increasing community action. In it, the organization stated that corporate civic engagement is more important than ever, as Americans’ “faith in government and other institutions is declining,” and CEOs are facing pressure to lead on social issues when the government fails to create change.
“At the Civic Alliance, the notion that an engaged democracy is good for business, and an engaged business community is good for democracy is fundamental to our work,” said Natalie Tran, co-founder of the Civic Alliance.
Civic Alliance currently has support from 1,252 retail companies, including Gap Inc., Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Target and others.
With a long legacy of championing voter rights and participating in the political discussion, Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) was one of six companies profiled in the playbook. Old Navy and Under Armour, as well as mega corporations Salesforce, MTV and Snap Inc, also contributed case studies.
The playbook homed in on LS&Co.’s recent strides in voter turnout, having recruited 200 poll workers and used its social platforms to encourage civic discussion to its combined 15 million followers. The company also donated to voter rights organizations and provided employees with paid time off to volunteer for the cause.
According to the report, LS&Co.’s efforts encouraged employees to increase their own voter-focused philanthropic giving by 471 percent. The company’s efforts totaled $3 million in 2020 alone to nonprofit organizations committed to providing fair access to polls.
“We must use our voice and resources to support our people and communities, providing the support they need and taking stands on issues from gun violence to voter participation to racial justice to gender equity,” LS&Co. president and CEO Chip Bergh said.
Bergh’s unrelenting passion for voter rights has been met with pushback. During an annual shareholder meeting in April last year, he reiterated the importance of using his platform for good to shareholders who questioned not only his position on political and societal issues, but also why it was a part of the business conversation to begin with. Prior to the meeting, he had appeared in a televised interview with CNN reporter Poppy Harlow discussing Georgia’s “restrictive” and “racist” voting laws, adding that the company was working with legislators to ensure they weren’t passed in other states.
In the past, Bergh has taken a stand on heated political issues such as gun rights and immigration, and his stance mirrors the views held by many Levi’s followers. A 2019 report from The Wall Street Journal indicated that Levi’s customers are notoriously left-leaning, and those numbers have risen in recent years.
In a statement, the company said it hopes its continued work in the space will inspire other businesses to do the same.
“We hope that more companies will make civic engagement a centerpiece of their work to empower employees and customers to be active citizens in their democracy,” it said.