Will Patagonia win Election Day by sending its workers to the polls?
The turnout for the 2012 Presidential election was described in various terms, generally synonymous with dismal. In total, less than 54 percent of those old enough to go to the polls cast a vote. The world’s longest running democracy has a large portion of its citizenship that for various reasons is simply not participating in the process. One retailer — Patagonia — is looking to change that in one small but perhaps substantive way. The company is giving all its workers Election Day off with pay.
Patagonia’s move is part of the outdoor retailer’s “Vote Our Planet” initiative, which seeks to get people to cast votes for candidates most likely to support pro-environmental legislation.
“During a time of catastrophic environmental crisis, when America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change, voter turnout threatens to reach historic lows as people are turned off by the ugliness of politics,” said Rose Marcario, the chain’s CEO, in a statement. “As a business, we have a unique ability to take a stand and choose to prioritize the health of the planet over profit, and I think it’s important we take that opportunity when it truly matters.”
Patagonia’s activism is not new. The company has been engaged in non-partisan election campaigns going back to 2004. Patagonia kicked off its Vote Our Planet campaign in September with an educational focus on protecting the health of the environment and American families. The campaign strongly supports action to combat climate change and push for a more rapid shift to renewable sources of energy. The chain will have hosted almost 60 events at its 29 stores by Election Day.
Among the various reasons people give not to vote is a lack of time or the loss of income should they go to a polling place instead of reporting to work. This is particularly true among adult low-income earners who get paid on an hourly basis and sometimes work multiple jobs. Low-income earners also point to “illness or disability” as factors in not voting.
- Patagonia Closes Its Doors on Election Day, Encourages Voters to Prioritize Environmental Issues – Patagonia
- Patagonia Launches Vote Our Planet – Patagonia
- U.S. voter turnout trails most developed countries – Pew Research Center
- Here Are 3 Big Reasons Americans Don’t Vote – Fortune
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of Patagonia’s Vote Our Planet campaign and its commitment to give workers the day off to vote? Do you think other retailers should be making efforts of some kind to enable workers to cast their votes?