Offering employees time off to vote is a simple way many companies have been helping people exercise their rights without feeling pressed for time. But why has the real estate industry been absent from the conversation?

In a year plagued by a web of incredible challenges, not least of which remains an ongoing global pandemic, the countdown to Election Day is rapidly ticking. Early voting is underway, with some states already surpassing their entire 2016 turnout.

On a personal level, I’m inspired by the millions of Americans who are already using their voices to shape the country’s political landscape over the next four years. As the CEO of one of the country’s largest residential brokerages, I feel it’s my duty to help get out the vote — not because I want to make a political statement, but because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m certainly not alone. Many leaders in corporate America are pledging to offer full or partial paid time off to their workers on Election Day to encourage voter turnout. Last month, I announced all Brown Harris Stevens (BHS) employees would get the day off so they could head to the polls unencumbered. I challenged other brokerages to do the same.

BHS later joined the Time To Vote coalition, a nonpartisan movement of 1,700 companies nationwide helping staffers exercise their right on Nov. 3. I was absolutely blown away by the response within my company. People were all at once so thankful, relieved and proud to be part of the growing change happening across our country.

Corporations — large and small, from Goldman Sachs to Patagonia — have been fully engaged in this encouraging movement sweeping the nation right now in sectors from tech to finance and fashion.

Noticeably absent in this conversation, surprisingly, is my industry — real estate. While it’s true many real estate agents are independent contractors and free to make their own hours, the real estate industry employs thousands upon thousands of people who don’t have the luxury of flexibility.

I don’t want anyone choosing between going to work, homeschooling their children or going to the polls. Offering employees time off was a simple way I could help encourage people to get up, get out, and vote in what continues to be a very stressful social and economic climate.

I’m compelled to ask: Where is real estate leadership in this conversation? Inaction is an action, and silence speaks volumes. In an age when corporate America has spoken out loud and clear on so many important issues, the real estate industry has been staying mum on the subject of encouraging voter turnout — and this is where the real change starts!

This isn’t about picking sides or pushing agendas. It’s simply about doing your part to help people exercise their rights without feeling burdened or pressed for time. 

I hope real estate leaders can take cues from companies in other industries and do what’s right by our employees. Our industry already has a reputation of not being forward-thinking, so let’s not give credit to that perception by staying comfortably on the sidelines. No matter what side of the political aisle we’re on, we’re told every vote counts. As leaders, it’s time to act like it. 

Bess Freedman is the chief executive officer of Brown Harris Stevens in New York City. Connect with her on Instagram or LinkedIn

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