Fashion companies will be giving their employees Election Day off if Tory Burch has anything to say about it.
In a Wall Street Journal editorial this week, Tory Burch shared the reasons why she decided to establish November 8 as a paid company holiday in an effort to increase voter turnout. Her op-ed comes on the heels of a venture led by the CFDA and Condé Nast to register voters through its #runwaytoregistration video campaign, and efforts by designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Prabal Gurung who designed limited-edition apparel for the Hillary Clinton campaign.
The push to the polls is a response to low voter turnout during the past two election cycles and a particularly divisive political climate leading into Election Day 2016. In 2012, 53.6 percent of voters cast a ballot — a rate that places it well below most developed countries — and 2014 saw the lowest turnout in an election based on percentage of population since World War II.
In the op-ed, Burch writes that politicians have not worked hard enough to mobilize voters or to make Election Day a national holiday to make voting easier on low income employees and working mothers. Burch also posted a video in support of giving employees the day off on her Instagram account, using the hashtag #TimeOffToVote.
“It is rare that a CEO gets to make a decision that is as black and white as this one,” Burch wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “Giving employees time off on Election Day will not only facilitate their participation in our democratic system — a net win for all of us — it will also foster a culture in which the importance of voting is recognized and celebrated.”
Steven Kolb, president of the CFDA, said companies should loosen protocols to allow for ample time to accommodate lengthy lines at the polls. As part of the #runwaytoregistration campaign with Condé Nast, the CFDA worked with 35 models and designers, including Burch, on short testimonials urging voter registration. Additionally, Condé Nast is granting employees the ability to take a half-day off in order to vote as part of the effort.
Have you registered to vote? #regram @cfda; directed by @cassblackbird @voguemagazine
A video posted by Tory Burch (@toryburch) on
“To make it easier to vote, employers should relax rules for employees to come in late or leave early on election day,” Kolb said. “Everyone should give themselves plenty of time to vote as there could be lines at the polls.”
He said this election cycle is rife with issues particularly relevant to the fashion industry: “Especially in fashion, issues concerning equal pay for men and women, immigration, and even who we choose to marry will be decided by whom we elect to the White House,” Kolb said. “Your next president fundamentally determines the future you live in, so it is important to encourage everyone to go out and vote.”
The movement to grant paid time off for election day has largely been championed by the technology industry, with an estimated 300 firms establishing November 8 as a paid company holiday.
“When we choose not to vote—when we chose not to facilitate voting by the broadest numbers of people possible—we risk weakening our democracy,” Burch wrote. “It’s embarrassing, but more important, it’s dangerous.”