Why Your Business Sustainability Depends on Empowering Voters:
A Look at Seventh Generation’s Voter Strategy
As the 2020 election nears, many responsible business leaders worry how voter turnout will impact the progress of our sustainability goals. Voter turnout appears to be crucial, as long-term sustainability in its broadest definition requires inclusivity to be viable. Companies committed to increasing sustainability are already engaged in meeting the life-supporting needs of all their stakeholders. But even the best companies can’t do it alone. Public policy must be working toward those same objectives. To harness public policy for the greater good, business leaders must actively promote voter engagement throughout their communities as well as through their companies. The more stakeholders who vote, the likelier our shared needs – for fair taxation, climate change remediation, paid leave, infrastructure repair, affordable healthcare, a living wage and much more — will be addressed on a policy level. Simply put, empowering American voters is the route to a resilient consumer economy that works for all of us.
Success-minded firms work to increase stakeholder engagement, because engaging with their communities on a range of issues helps firmsstay in touch with the public’s needs and demands. High-road, sustainable companies take this knowledge to inform existing policymakers on behalf of stakeholders. But they make an even more significant impact by encouraging those stakeholders to study the issues and vote in the first place. Since almost all companies as well as consumers prosper when public policy supports a fair-play marketplace, smart business leaders encourage stakeholders to do their part and vote. In the process, they strengthen America’s democratic decision-making process; a process that has earned longstanding, nonpartisan support.
ASBC has always promoted and advocated for businesses that make a concerted effort to increase voter turnout. In recent years, many more firms have stepped up by giving time off to vote or simply making sure their communities, stakeholder groups and employees all have access to voter information. According to Business Insider, 30 states require providing time off to vote (2 to 3 hours, mostly paid) but there is no Federal mandate. https://www.businessinsider.com/can-i-leave-work-early-to-vote-2016-11
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred almost all states to allow no-excuse voting by mail, but curtailment of USPS functions in 2020 has caused widespread concern. Meanwhile, some companies are carrying the message. For example, ASBC member Seventh Generation has launched an impressive voter turn-out strategy that others can adapt.
Seventh Generation’s voter turn-out strategy is clearly aligned with its overall business strategy in four distinct areas.
First, Seventh Generation urges Federal support for safe elections, including vote-by-mail. It partners with Business for America, the ACLU and the People’s Bailout to advocate for federal funding and guidelines for states to implement safer elections, including advocating for Vote by Mail. This effort aligns with Seventh Generation’s overall mission of participating in a caring and inclusive economy, which also includes creating safer household products and transitioning to renewable energy.
Second, the company encourages getting out the youth vote. It partners with Earth Guardians, an organization that prepares diverse youths to participate in social and environmental justice issues. By encouraging youth, who have the most at stake, to vote, Seventh Generation lives its overall mission of environmental stewardship: “to transform the world into a healthy, sustainable and equitable place for the next seven generations.”
Third, the company works to drive the millennial vote, which also aligns with its mission of improving the environment for the next seven generations. In this effort, it partners with the League of Women Voters, a longstanding, nonpartisan organization devoted to encouraging wider voting, including by women. Millennials, aged 24 to 39, now comprise the largest number of people in the U.S. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/04/28/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers-as-americas-largest-generation/
Fourth, Seventh Generation also actively helps to make in-person voting safer during COVID-19. It partners with Native Vote to provide disinfectant and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to communities in need. This effort aligns with the firm’s overall mission (caring for the future through seven generations, an homage to Native wisdom) and also aligns with the firm’s their main line of business, providing safer, more sustainable cleaning and paper products.
Seventh Generation’s strategy and partnerships to get out the vote out aligns both with its mission and its business operation, and has a positive impact throughout its supply chain and community. ASBC encourages all our members to help get out the vote in the crucial Nov. 3, 2020 election, and we stand ready to assist you in this essential effort!