National Voter Registration Day is September 20
With National Voter Registration Day on September 20, UScellular CEO Laurent “LT” Therivel and Chief People Officer and Head of Communications Deirdre Drake discuss the importance of voting and how UScellular supports its associates with paid time off to vote and other resources. Information on voter registration is available at NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org.
Deirdre Drake: LT, you have lived in various parts of the world during your career, first in the Marine Corps and now in the business world. Why is voting so important to you?
LT: Our voices matter. I’ve had the opportunity to work in a lot of different countries, and the right to vote – and the importance of voting – is something I don’t take for granted. I’ve always ensured that I am registered to vote in every state I’ve lived in, and when I was overseas I would always make it a point to vote remotely. It’s great that there are resources available – like the National Voter Registration Day website – that can help people understand the various guidelines and timelines for registering and voting in each state. I know that many people moved over the past couple of years, so it’s a good time to ensure you’re registered.
Deirdre, you were instrumental in us implementing paid time off for our associates to vote. Why was that a priority and what has the reaction been?
DD: We encourage all our associates to be involved in our democracy, and we are committed to giving them the time and the tools they need to be active and engaged citizens. By offering our associates up to four hours of paid time off to vote in general elections, we wanted to remove a key barrier and encourage our associates to exercise their right to vote.
The feedback from associates has been overly positive, mainly about the flexibility of the policy. It was important for us to provide this time to be used for in-person voting on election day or an early voting day in addition for time to drop off a mail-in or absentee ballot. Schedules, preferences and needs vary, so we wanted to offer something that could work for everyone. Additionally, our Associate Resource Groups are taking their own initiative to encourage their fellow associates to vote through various in-person and online voting drives ahead of this year’s mid-term elections.
LT, as a CEO what would you say to other companies who may be considering offering a similar benefit?
LT: Encouragingly, we are not alone in offering associates paid time off to vote. Along with us, there are nearly 2,000 companies who have joined the nonpartisan “Time to Vote” movement. Together, we help ensure employees across America don't have to choose between voting and earning a paycheck. The first thing I would say is to check out their website for information and resources.
Each company is different, and there are other ways to support associates interested in voting, such as allowing flexible shifts, not scheduling meetings on election day or providing resources and information. You mentioned our Associate Resource Groups, and they are a great way to involve associates in decisions and encourage open dialogue on a variety of topics, including voting and democracy.
Deirdre, any parting thoughts?
DD: I echo your sentiment that our voices matter. Our intention with offering paid time off was to not just make it easier for our associates to vote, but to actively encourage them to do so. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave black women the legal right to vote. My parents instilled in me the understanding that many people endured hardship and struggles to secure that right, and that the privilege to do so as a citizen of this country should not be squandered. I urge everyone to check your registration status and participate in your upcoming elections. We owe it to ourselves today, to those in our past who fought for their rights and most importantly, to our future.