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Patagonia wants U.S. companies to give employees election day off

Patagonia wants U.S. companies to give employees election day off
[Photo: Flickr user troye owens]

Whether it’s providing on-site daycare, pioneering organic cotton, expanding fair trade manufacturing in the apparel industry, or speaking out on environmental issues, Patagonia has long led by example. Now CEO Rose Marcario is hoping to keep that up for the upcoming midterm elections in the U.S.

Marcario posted a message to consumers and colleagues today, announcing that the company will be shutting down stores and offices to provide a paid day-off for employees to vote. Beyond that, she’s hoping more American companies will follow suit.

“On Election Day 2016, we closed all our retail stores nationwide, our distribution and customer service center in Nevada, and our headquarters in California, and gave all Patagonia employees paid time off so they could go vote,” writes Marcario. “This year, we’re doing it again. And this time, we’re actively encouraging other companies to join us. Because no American should have to choose between a paycheck and fulfilling his or her duty as a citizen.”

A 2014 Pew Research Center study found that 35% of eligible voters said scheduling conflicts, either with work or school, kept them from the polls on Election Day. Marcario has led Patagonia to push harder on its activism over the last few years–like its campaign to defend public lands–and this is just the latest example of the brand’s interests converging with civic action.

“Now more than ever, we also need our employees to be engaged citizens,” writes Marcario. “All of us benefit from living in a free society. That’s what allowed us to build businesses in the first place, and it’s what guarantees us the right to defend our air, water, and soil. So this year my message to everyone at Patagonia and all my fellow business leaders is: Let our people go vote.”

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