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Birkenstock Gives Employees Paid Time Off to Vote in 2020 Election

Birkenstock is giving its employees a day off to encourage their participation at the polls.

The shoe manufacturer confirmed to FN that it would give its United States-based workers a paid holiday to vote in the 2020 presidential election to be held on Nov. 3. (It has about 200 employees in the country.)

“We are certainly not doing it to make a political statement or a social statement,” CEO of Birkenstock Americas David Kahan said of the brand’s decision during a conference call with The Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, who is widely known as a supporter of Birkenstock and a member of the board of voter registration nonprofit Headcount. “We really just want to empower our workforce.”

According to Pew Research Center, about 56% of the U.S. voting-age population voted in the 2016 presidential election. Ahead of the elections, hundreds of major companies have joined forces under the campaign Time to Vote in the hopes of influencing a stronger voter turnout. The big-name corporations span a variety of industries, including tech, manufacturing and retail.

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Meanwhile, the shoe industry has launched its own initiative: Early this month, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America debuted ShoeVoter.com, a non-partisan online center that provides voting information to shoe professionals. The website offers executives and other members of the footwear sector access to voting-related materials, including their state’s registration rules and deadlines, absentee ballot guidelines, voting locations and requirements, a list of candidates in their district and the latest in COVID-19-related information.

A number of fashion and footwear brands and retailers, such as Steve Madden and Coach, are also doing their part: In late June, the Tapestry-owned brand announced that it had entered into a partnership with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote organization aimed at combating voter suppression in the Black community. Separately, in January, Steve Madden teamed up with Voto Latino, co-founded by actress Rosario Dawson, to help close the gap for unregistered voters and educate as well as and encourage young people to turn out to the polls.

In November, all seats in the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate and the office of president of the U.S. will be contested.

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