REI Co-op is going the extra mile to encourage its employees to vote.
The specialty outdoor retailer REI Co-op said that it will delay the opening of its stores by two hours on Election Day (Nov. 8) to give every employee paid time off for “civic engagement.” REI has also created an online election resource hub for employees and customers as part of its “Your Vote Can't Wait campaign.”
"Every election is an opportunity for each of us to engage, participate and help create the change we want to see in our world and this year's midterms are no exception," said Ben Steele, executive VP, chief customer officer, REI Co-op. "No one should be forced to choose between going to work and participating in the democratic process."
The decision comes as a direct result of feedback received in employee focus groups, according to REI.
"Time and again, we've heard that our employees expect us not just to speak out on issues facing our co-op and society, but that they are looking for ways to get involved in making this a better world for all,” Steels said. “That's why last year we launched the REI Cooperative Action Network, our community advocacy platform that allows people to take action on the issues we care about most, and why we're taking this action on Election Day.”
"Voting is fundamental to our society, but democracy encompasses more than casting a ballot," Steele continued. "It's a shared belief that underpins our institutions, girds our social structures, and informs how we engage with one another. A functioning democracy requires the full participation of all its citizens."
The nation's largest consumer co-op, REI is has 178 locations in 42 states and the District of Columbia.