May 2, 2024 - Business

Businesses drag feet on election prep

Illustration of quotation marks on a political yard sign.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Businesses are doing little to communicate about the 2024 elections, even as geopolitical matters continue to divide workplaces in the U.S.

Driving the news: A new survey conducted by Shallot Communications, found only half of in-house communication leaders have started rolling out workplace activism or civic engagement policies ahead of election season.

  • Of those who are planning to communicate, the internal tiger team responsible for this strategy typically includes representatives from legal, comms, HR and the CEO's office, per the survey.
  • A majority of companies — roughly 6 in 10 — give employees time off to vote, but 25% failed to communicate about it internally.

Zoom in: 80% of all Americans believe businesses play a role in encouraging a free and fair election, per a recent survey from Weber Shandwick.

  • Yes, but: After the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, only one-third of companies communicated internally about what happened — and of those, only 13% made statements externally, according to Shallot's survey.

What they're saying: "If you're a company that wants to have a strong point of view on democracy or wants to take a stance on voting, make that decision now," said Teal Pennebaker, co-founder of Shallot Communications.

  • "It's so much easier to plan for all of this well ahead of time, before you're pulled into the onslaught of headlines and potential employee activism," she added.

What to watch: How brands show up at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions this summer.

  • "We're heading into the summer months, we've got convention season, we have [pending] trial results, and time is an advantage for us now," said Shallot co-founder Tim Granholm. "Let's get some ideas together and get the conversations going for the purpose of figuring out how the election matters to our business, our people or our brand."

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