Universal Music Group (UMG) has officially deemed Election Day a company holiday for its United States-based employees.
The Task Force for Meaningful Change – established by Universal Music Group in early June and named a few days after the fact – recently proposed the pivot, and UMG higher-ups formally announced the new policy in an internally circulated memo (which DMN obtained). On Election Day 2020 – set for Tuesday, November 3rd – the Big Three record label will grant its stateside team members eight hours of paid leave. Additionally, this company holiday will complement UMG’s existing practice of affording employees two hours of paid leave to vote in other elections (primary, special, etc.).
In explaining the policy, UMG’s Election Day 2020 memo specified the small overall portion of eligible voters (almost 56 percent) who cast ballots in the 2016 election and noted underrepresented groups’ arduous journey to securing the vote. The roughly 730-word text also reiterated that the Universal Music Group policy manual encourages all “qualified” employees to participate in the political process.
At the time of this writing, UMG hadn’t mentioned the Election Day holiday via press release or social media despite its resulting from the Meaningful Change Task Force. Moreover, other music industry brands have yet to announce their own plans to make Election Day a company holiday, though most of these entities have long granted employees time to vote during the workday.
Universal Music Group General Counsel and EVP Jeff Harleston leads the Task Force for Meaningful Change, which is co-chaired by Motown Records President Ethiopia Habtemariam. These individuals are in charge of utilizing the $25 million that UMG set aside for the endeavor. Around the same time that UMG unveiled this donation, the other Big Three record labels followed suit, with Sony Music committing $100 million to racial justice causes. Warner Music Group partnered with the Blavatnik Family Foundation and established a $100 million social justice fund as well.
Following “Black Out Tuesday,” an early-June protest initiative spearheaded by the music industry, an array of companies and professionals voiced their intention to implement progress-minded changes. Now, after nearly two months of planning, many of these changes are coming to fruition. Last week, we reported that leading concert promoter Live Nation had pledged to double the number of black executives it employs by 2025, as part of a broader series of “diversity commitments.”
And on the artist side, Beyoncé has partnered with the NAACP to help fund black-owned businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.