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Leon Kaye headshot

Your Company Can Drive Civic Engagement: Here's Why Your Actions Matter

Leaders at businesses and nonprofits shared why civic engagement is so important - and why early voting so far is at an all-time high in the U.S.
By Leon Kaye
Civic Engagement

As of press time, over 70 million Americans have already cast their ballots, a level of civic engagement unthinkable just a year ago. 

Much of this is because of the passions on both sides of the political divide. But we also have to give credit to the civic leaders, nonprofits and even companies that have supported efforts to get out the vote this election cycle.

To that end, last week we wrapped up the 3BL Virtual Forum by speaking to leaders from both the private and nonprofit sectors to weigh in on why it’s so important to them that anyone eligible to vote in the U.S. does so.

One common thread you’ll find is that several of these individuals are advocating for either citizens who often find too many barriers to vote (as in, essential workers), or one stakeholder group that doesn’t have a voice, the environment. Here's what they had to say last Thursday during the Forum.

Sarah Bonk, founder and CEO of Business For America

“There are activities that businesses can do right now — whether it’s using their products or using their resources, staff or funds — to help run elections with integrity this year. Businesses care about a lot of things; we have all these purpose-driven businesses that want to create good in the world — brands with purpose.

“Our democratic process is crucial to achieving that. We’re not going to make progress on climate, on racial equity, on protection of essential workers without having government policies that are aligned with those outcomes.”

Delia de la Vara, SVP of development and strategic initiatives for UnidosUS

“The clients and the community that our organizations serve are those frontline workers, essential workers, who don’t really have a choice and an option to work from home and are going into a day-to-day workforce or an environment where they are uncertain what they may be bringing back to their households.

“We also want to make sure that the issues we think are important — about the economy, about healthcare access, about education and immigration — are part of the political discourse. So often, the issues we get to talk about or that make it to the light of day as it relates to Latinos are only about immigration reform. But the top issues for our community in poll after poll, for years, have been jobs and the economy, and right behind that is healthcare access. Those are three defining factors for how we succeed and how we move in the country.”

Claudia Bojorquez, director of strategic partnerships and corporate social responsibility at Univision

“We’re continuously seeking to play a role in creating campaigns on issues that are most important to the Hispanic audience. If you look at our history, getting involved in social impact issues is really part of our DNA. It’s really who we are and who we’ve stood for over the past 60 years. Because of this, our audience has grown up watching Univision and really trusts us, and that special connection to our audience is really unparalleled.”

Maxwell Zoric, senior director of social impact at MTV and Comedy Central

“We have been working over the last year, even before the pandemic, to think about a new strategy to get younger people, first-time voters, to really understand their options to vote early ... We started with about 10 partners and now we have more than 2,500, including big brands like Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and stores like REI. There are going to be big brands getting their audiences’ attention on voting early, but also working at the local level.”

Michael Martin, founder and CEO of Effect Partners

“Voting is the most important thing you can do to tackle climate change, and there’s two main reasons for this. First: Over the last two elections, if you average the number of people who care about the environment who voted, there’s only about 35 percent. You compare that to the NRA — 80 percent of NRA members voted. If all those voters who cared about the environment had voted in the last election, that would have been 10 million voters, and as we all recall the last election was decided by about 77,000 votes, and we all know what that led to.

“The other reason it’s absolutely critical is because pollsters poll people who vote — they don’t poll people who don’t vote. What that means is that politicians will introduce legislation that has to do with what people care about in polls, and if the environment doesn’t show up, they don’t introduce that legislation. So, it’s critical if you care about climate change to get out and vote.”

David Dietz, social responsibility program director for the NBA

“We view this as our civic duty. Our society and our democracy work best when everyone can have their voices heard. It’s 2020, and as we as a society are dealing with COVID-19 and the ongoing impacts of systemic racism, we feel we all have a responsibility to step up and find ways to support one another. Everything we do, we do collaboratively with our players and teams, and we really try to lead with our values. This is no different. We’re essentially trying to do our part and help encourage folks to get engaged.”

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Image credits: Jennifer Griffin/Unsplash; Pexels 

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye