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If there is one thing we all learned in 2020, it is that our world can be turned upside down in a moment. COVID-19 impacted our lives in ways we couldn’t imagine from grocery shopping to holiday celebrations. Home offices, home gyms and home schooling became the new normal. But, the challenges of the past year also inspired many people to find new ways to become civically engaged in our democratic process.
Employee civic engagement has long been a priority for Salesforce, but a few years ago Salesforce wanted to find new ways to expand our program and provide employees with more tools and educational opportunities. We knew we could expand our Government Affairs Speaker Series and that we could build upon employee communications around key opportunities to get involved like voter deadlines.
But there was one item we dreamed of one day becoming a possibility – making Election Day a company holiday. We knew that if we could give people the time to exercise their right to vote, we could help Salesforce employees be the most civically engaged in the US.
Salesforce leadership gave us the runway to make our dream a reality. In the past three years, we built a civic engagement program centered around the needs of our employees.
- Providing employees with nonpartisan resources and tools: By partnering with TurboVote in 2020, we helped more than 1,200 employees register to vote, and more than 2,000 employees signed up for election reminders — a 100% increase from 2019. We also sent election reminder emails from local Salesforce leaders in our hubs for state and municipal elections.
- Access to experts and candidates: There is a lot of information out there so as we expanded our Speaker Series, we narrowed our focus to two areas of great employee interest, candidates and voting information. We hosted candidate forums for our biggest hubs to make sure employees had an opportunity to hear from their candidates from different parties. We rolled out a “Voting in the US” Speaker Series to dive deeper into issues such as the centennial of women’s suffrage, the mechanics of voting, and voting rights and access.
- Supporting Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts: In 2020, we declared Election Day a company holiday. We also approved nonpartisan poll work as Volunteer Time Off, and nearly 700 employees volunteered as poll workers across the country.
To showcase how our employees sprung to action, we spoke with two Salesforce trailblazers who went above and beyond this election season, helping their communities navigate an environment that had moved a very in-person experience to a hybrid model.
Aubree Broadwater: Talent Partner on Salesforce’s Internal Careers Team and President of BOLDforce Atlanta, Georgia
Pamela Aquino: Executive Assistant on the Salesforce Commercial Sales Team, New York City, New York
Q: How were you civically engaged over the last year?
Aubree: In February 2020, during Black History Month, BOLDforce Atlanta – our Black employee resource group – partnered with The New Georgia Project to host a voter registration drive across high schools and colleges in Atlanta and just a few hours, we were able to register over 100 students. We partnered with the Salesforce Government Affairs team on a 2020 election preview event where we discussed topics such as ways employees can vote, when to vote, why the census matters, how legislative districts are drawn, and what individuals can do to be more engaged in their communities.
On June 9, five out of seven poll workers did not show up for their shifts in Georgia, causing more than six hour-long lines to vote, ultimately suppressing voter turnout. I knew it would be worse on November 3 if we didn’t collectively step up. I contacted the leaders of the Black Employee Resource Groups at other companies in the industry and asked them to join us in getting out the vote by being a poll worker or volunteering at the polls. We had over 50 election day workers and volunteers which is AMAZING! Our poll workers provided a world class experience for more than 500 voters in College Park and Atlanta from cheering on first time voters and helping to uphold our country’s democratic process. We also organized volunteers for last week’s Senate race because elections are more than one day every four years.
Pamela: I knew 2020 would be a great year to get involved due to the national Presidential election and local elections. I decided to begin phone banking and text banking in addition to donating to candidates in my personal capacity. I also assisted with registering people virtually to vote.
Q: Why did you decide to dedicate your free time to phone and text banking?
Pamela: I knew that the Latino vote would be very influential and wanted to set up an event focused on civic engagement. Salesforce and Latinoforce Global partnered up with the nonprofit, Voto Latino Foundation to help reach out to voters in Texas via text. We hosted more than 90 volunteers for this text banking event and sent out 478,706 total texts. We were also able to give the nonprofit a $5,000 Salesforce grant.
Q: Why did you choose to get involved in your community?
Aubree: As a Black woman in the south, I have no choice but to be involved and actively use my voice for the betterment of my community. My ancestors instilled resiliency in me and taught me that change doesn’t happen, it’s demanded. My way of demanding what I know we deserve is through voting and other forms of civic engagement. As I planned the events around the election throughout the year, my hope was to organize efforts that would drive the most impact and engagement for Atlanta. Civic engagement goes beyond showing up on election day to vote. There are so many other ways in which we can get involved and it’s important that we all do!
Civic engagement goes beyond showing up on election day to vote. There are so many other ways in which we can get involved and it’s important that we all do!Aubree Broadwater, Talent Partner, Salesforce & President, BOLDforce Atlanta
Q: Do you have advice for others who want to get involved but might not know where to start?
Pamela: I believe that the best way to get personally involved is to first look at your local leadership in your city/county, and second, research nonprofits that are giving back.. There are many nonprofits that are helping with these initiatives and really just need some dedicated volunteers. The most important thing to do is to start and to stay involved! Civic engagement is meant to be consistent but you must start somewhere.
At Salesforce, we believe that business is the greatest platform for change. Employees like Aubree and Pamela show that you can encourage your community to drive for positive impact, even in the middle of a pandemic. Thanks to all our employees and neighbors who showed up to vote, volunteered at the polls, and helped create a safe election experience in their communities.