November 5, 2018

Making Time to Vote is One Way to Make Change


By Ayah Bdeir, Founder at littleBits

At littleBits, our mission is to empower kids everywhere, regardless of gender, race, nationality, and ability, to solve the epic challenges ahead. We believe that one of the most impactful ways that changemakers can actually make change is by voting.

As someone who does not have the right to vote in the United States, I know the struggle of not being able to cast my ballot. But I’ve learned that I can make a difference in other ways. I can encourage my team — by giving them flexibility and time — to make their voices heard.

That’s why littleBits is offering paid time off to vote on election day. We’re proud to be part of a larger network of companies who have committed to this, including Ordergroove, VIOLET GREY, Conversion Logic, Doctor on Demand, and Foundry Group (just to name a few!).

It’s something for all tech CEOs to consider.

If you’re not in a position to totally cease operations on election day, think about giving employees paid time off to vote. Or about offering a flex day. Or better yet, making Tuesday, November 6 a mandatory “no meetings” day. A great source of inspiration is #TimeOffToVote, a nationwide effort to encourage employers to make accommodations for their employees to participate in the election.

The Perks of Being a Changemaker

The truth is that startups do a lot to keep their employees happy. Unlimited vacation time, snacks, dog-friendly offices, laundry Tuesdays, manicure Fridays… but all of those perks mean nothing if we don’t give our employees an opportunity to express themselves and to be heard as part of the democratic process.

At littleBits, this is not the first time we put a flag in the ground:

  • In 2017 we bought a billboard in Times Square to celebrate inclusion and diversity in the face of a troubling executive order from the President.
  • We expressed zero tolerance for the government’s zero tolerance policy back in June.
  • We’ve even called on tech CEOs to disrupt immigration.
  • littleBits recently acquired JAM.com, the largest paid subscription STEAM course platform for kids. JAM.com reminded kids and their parents to register to vote via a custom banner at the top of its homepage.

littleBits, JAM.com, register to vote banner

Each time we have taken a stand, we have received pushback from customers — angry emails and threats of boycott. But every time, it’s also come with a great surge of camaraderie in the company and a reminder that our mission and culture is bigger than us, if we remember to enact it when it matters.

Interested in more ideas to empower changemakers? Visit my new column on Inc. Magazine.


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