BHS gives employees Election Day off

CEO Bess Freedman called on other residential brokerages to do the same

TRD New York /
Sep.September 14, 2020 04:00 PM
Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freedman (iStock)

Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freedman (iStock)

Brown Harris Stevens is giving its staff no excuse not to cast their ballots come Nov. 3.

CEO Bess Freedman announced in a memo on Monday that BHS employees will not have to report to work on Election Day.

“I don’t want anyone feeling like they must choose between work, childcare, or going to the polls,” she wrote in a memo to staff. “This is your day to cast your ballot that will shape the political landscape over the next four years.”

Apple announced a similar policy in July, giving all of its employees four hours off with pay on Nov. 3 to either vote or volunteer at the polls, according to Bloomberg.

In New York, state law allows workers to take off two paid hours to vote on Election Day. Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that allows voters to cast their ballot by mail, as long as they cite a concern over contracting or spreading Covid-19. The new rule follows the state’s much-criticized handling of its primary in July; the Board of Elections was overwhelmed by the number of absentee ballots, and it took weeks to call a number of races.

In an interview, Freedman said this was the first time BHS was giving employees Election Day off, though the brokerage has had “leniency” on previous election days in order to accommodate voting.

Freedman said she decided to take an “affirmative” stance toward voting this year in part due to voter turnout hitting a 20-year low in 2016. She denied there was any political partisanship guiding her decision.

“I want everybody to vote,” she said. “Because then, at the end of the day, people speak and you understand who they want in leadership. It’s so incredibly important.”

In a public version of her memo, posted on LinkedIn, Freedman threw down the gauntlet to other real estate companies, encouraging them to follow suit and give employees the day off to vote.

“The challenge is their’s and I hope they’ll do it,” she said. “We have the courage to do what’s right and we’re going to do it.”






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