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How Can Business Engage with Government?

Let’s talk about what’s on everyone’s minds, politics! Should businesses be political? Decorum dictates that political opinions are private. However, the 2016 election changed that for many people. And research is backing up the new era. 78% of consumers want companies to take a stand on social justice issues.

Like personal political engagement, business engagement benefits both government and the business. The government’s reach into daily life is an acknowledged fact. In addition to environmental law, government provides infrastructure, capital, health departments and innumerable other services. The midterm elections remind us that all politics are local.

Local authority makes laws for business. “Local” politics vary by area; find your mayor, city council or other governing body. Then, look at your senators and representatives. Elected officials pass laws and budgets that can drastically affect your business, in positive and negative ways. Customers will notice potholes and excessive construction on your block. These are both dictated by local government. Conversely, if bills are passed to make wind power cheaper, you can buy it and share that fact with customers.

More importantly, midterms remind us what local politics must do to keep up with business. Look at the initiatives and representatives elected in the midterms. Will new construction initiatives change your neighborhood? Do rising public transit costs affect employees? Taking a deeper look shows just how entwined business and government are.

Societal shifts are slower at the government level, but they are apparent. Business can help accelerate these shifts. Taking sustainability as an example, business input on food waste standards, and plastic bag bans influences local politicians. Benefits to political discussion include marketing, community building and visibility. 

What Can You Do to Interact With Politics as a Business Owner? 

Note examples of local politics that influence your bottom line, location, and customers. Like the examples described above, neighborhood changes will affect your business. If you notice something, call your representative. Make sure you are up to date on local election times, polling places, and initiatives. Then vote on them.

Share sustainability strategies with your city councilor, congressional representative, and state representative. Talking about goodwill that you are doing will show the elected official the importance of the issue. They will then talk to other businesses about it, or use it in research for creating bills.

Consider corporate donations of money or time to political causes employees care about. Taking a stand on women’s rights like Butter & Scotch or donate to environmental causes like Patagonia. These businesses find deeper connections with customers by advertising their causes.  

Vote. Consider giving your employees the day or half a day off to vote. 

Invite politicians to round tables, business events, or drop-ins. Ask them to share their opinion, vision for the neighborhood or how they see the role of business in government. Having an open dialogue gives you influence but it also creates goodwill. The publicity of them attending your event or space gives you publicity. This is an especially good idea for a new representative or elected official.

Has your interaction with government changed in the past few years? Share in the comments.

Eliza ErskineComment