REI is encouraging its employees to exercise their right to vote this November by delaying the opening of its stores by two hours on Election Day, reports Footwear News. On Nov. 8, every employee will receive paid time off as part of the outdoor retailer's Your Vote Can’t Wait campaign. REI has also created an election resource hub for employees and members alike at REI.com/vote. It includes a range of tools, including one that allows users to register to vote, another to check their registration status and to get personalized election reminders.
The decision comes as a direct result of feedback received in employee focus groups, according to a company press release. REI rolled out a similar program that offered flexible paid time off for the 2020 election.
Total Retail's Take: Retailers continue to identify new ways to satisfy employees, offer greater work-life flexibility, and be more socially responsible. REI has always stood up its commitment to "broadening civic engagement" as a core tenant of its brand, so offering employees paid time off to vote makes sense. Ben Steele, executive vice president, chief customer officer, REI Co-op, said in a statement, "No one should be forced to choose between going to work and participating in the democratic process."
This is also a great example of an organization taking action in direct response to employee feedback. Last year, the co-op launched the REI Cooperative Action Network, a community advocacy platform that allows people to take action on the issues they care about most. After hearing that its team members are "looking for ways to get involved in making this a better world for all," the co-op decided to take action this Election Day, Steele added. As Nov. 8 nears, I would be impressed if more retailers followed REI's lead and announced similar programs to make it easier for employees to vote this Election Day.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Total Retail and sister brands Women in Retail Leadership Circle and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality at NAPCO Media. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for all brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, WLT&H or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment—or at home on Zoom—recording interviews with thought leaders and business executives.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her family and two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.