Why this hospitality-focused software startup made Election Day a paid holiday - Technical.ly Philly

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Oct. 21, 2020 11:28 am

Why this hospitality-focused software startup made Election Day a paid holiday

xtraCHEF, the 30-person maker of an operations management platform for restaurants, is giving its employees a paid day off this Nov. 3. Cofounder and CEO Andy Schwartz explains.
The xtraCHEF team.

The xtraCHEF team.

(Courtesy photo)

This is a guest post by xtraCHEF cofounder and CEO Andy Schwartz.

My cofounder and xtraCHEF CTO, Bhavik Patel, and I have always been proud of the flexible work environment we offer our employees. When the 2016 election came around, we felt confident that everyone on the team had the freedom they needed in order to go to the polls and make sure their voices were heard.

But we know this isn’t the reality for most Americans. According to the U.S. Elections Project, over 60 million people voted Clinton that year. About the same voted for Trump. But an estimated 100 million eligible voters casted no vote at all. That’s a staggering number of people who didn’t exercise their rights.

Assuming that these 100 million voters are just uninterested in politics is a mistake. Think about how many of these people don’t have the flexibility to run out of the office or their home for an hour to cast a vote. What about people in, say, meatpacking plants, who only have a half-hour lunch break? Or single parents who are working multiple jobs and simply cannot find a spare hour in between shifts?

Bhavik and I both feel that 2020 is an important election year. There’s a lot going on in the country, with most of us still feeling the effects of the pandemic. That’s especially true in the restaurant industry, which still has not received any direct federal funding to get them through these tough times. The recent Heroes Act, which included a $120 billion grant just for restaurants, is now sitting untouched because of political games.

About 15.3 million people in this country work in restaurants; I can’t stop thinking about how many million of them are still unemployed, without enough support to get food on their own tables, because of how politicized the pandemic has become.

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Seven out of 10 Americans support a second stimulus. It’s not a political issue; a majority of Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike support the idea. If politicians are supposed to represent the will of the people, why are the people not being heard?

The only way is to make sure that more of those voices are heard through votes. And one way to gather more votes is to make voting more accessible to all. This is the first year that xtraCHEF will offer Election Day as a paid holiday for all of our employees, offering them the opportunity to vote whenever they wish, and giving them the opportunity to be poll workers.

xtraCHEF cofounders Andy Schwartz and Bhavik Patel. (Courtesy photo)

We see this much less as an opportunity for xtraCHEF employees and more as our position on corporate responsibility. If we join the other tech companies who are trying to make Election Day more accessible, maybe we can start a national movement to make it a paid holiday for all — or at least change the conversation about how voter turnout can be improved.

Until then, we urge everyone to create a voting plan in this very unique election year. Be sure to check your state and local guidelines for what is and is not allowed when it comes to absentee, mail-in or early voting; it varies widely, so check the U.S. Vote Foundation to be sure.

My voting plan is already in progress: My wife and I requested mail-in ballots, and when we both have them in hand, we’ll drop them off together at one of the designated spots in Philadelphia to ensure our votes are received and recorded.

This is the first year I can remember that political policy has had such a direct effect on my quality of life, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to make sure the people in office are looking out for me and the restaurant operators that xtraCHEF serves.

Companies: xtraCHEF
Series: Election 2020
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