October 29, 2012

Please Give Your Employees The Opportunity To Vote

By Paul Bieber

I strongly believe that most folks living in the US do want to vote.  It is hard not to have an opinion about the Presidential race, all of the Congress, some Governors and all of the local ballot questions.  Some potential voters say there is no difference between candidate A or B, but that certainly isn’t true in this year’s Presidential race.  Some will say no matter who they vote for that nothing changes.  And some say they don’t have the time to wait in line to vote.  This is where you come in.

You are the owner or manager of a glass company.  Set your work schedules on November 6th so that everyone has a chance to vote.  Give a few extra minutes at lunch.  Let some folks come in late and then let others leave a little early so they can vote.  You may have trucks on the road doing installations.  Let the foremen know it is OK if they stop at a polling place during the day.  There is a cost to living in this great country.  As an entrepreneur you are paying a very small price giving your team an extra hour once every four years.

Now that I have told you what to do, here is what not to do.

Don’t spread your politics to your employees. David A. Siegel, 77, chief executive of Westgate Resorts, a major time-share company, wrote to his 7,000 employees, saying that if Mr. Obama won, the prospect of higher taxes could hurt the company’s future.  His letter went on to say, “The economy doesn’t currently pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is another four years of the same presidential administration,” Mr. Siegel wrote. “If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current president plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company.”  This is quoted from the New York Times, published on October 26th.

To me this is an obscenity, but it is legal.  It is illegal to coerce or pay someone to vote a certain way; this doesn’t meet that criteria.  While the article in the Times did not mention any Democratic leaning employers doing this, odds are there are some.  But, the point is, as a leader you have a moral responsibility to be fair to your employees.  Most look up to you, fear you, or even respect you.  If you want to help one candidate, go to their local office and volunteer to make phone calls, donate, or drive people to the polls.  The workplace is not the right place to spread an owner’s or leader’s political beliefs.