The most important message I have this month is to vote. I’m so serious about it that I propose for all of us do our part and close our offices until 10:00 a.m. on November 6 so 100 percent of our employees can get to the polls without worrying about being late for work.

One of the messages coming out of our Insurance Leadership Forum last month was that democracy is only as good as the willingness of its citizenry to participate. So let’s lead by example. If you’re with me, tweet at us @TheCIAB and let us know you’re taking the pledge.

Voter turnout in midterm elections historically has been significantly lower than the turnout in presidential elections, which is why we need to make this coming Election Tuesday a top priority. Statistics show that turnout of eligible voters in midterm years hovers around 40 percent, while the turnout in presidential elections from 2000-2016 ranged between 54-58 percent. Those numbers are staggering to me, revealing more than anything that there are several million voters out there who don’t get out and perform their civic duty. It’s incomprehensible. It’s also the cause of many of our major issues. 

This year, dozens of competitive House and Senate races as well as 36 gubernatorial seats up for are grabs. We are in a critical time, each day headlined by an increasingly toxic political environment. And whether you like or dislike what's going on, the best thing we can all do is vote.

We have one major obligation as members of a democracy and that is to make our voices heard. If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain—simple as that.

One way to see change is to vote different people into office, which brings me to our continued efforts around diversity and inclusion. In recent months, The Council hosted a “Dive In” event at our DC offices (one of more than 50 Dive In events held across 27 countries, as part of the insurance industry’s global effort to improve diversity in the workplace), adopted a formal D&I resolution at the Board level, and continued our relationship with inclusion strategist and cultural innovator, Vernā Myers (who spoke at both our Employee Benefits Leadership Forum in May and the Insurance Leadership Forum last month). Check out our exclusive interview with her. 

We are doing these things to highlight the importance of cultivating environments of inclusion in workplaces all over the world. As one of our Board members commented recently, diversity and inclusion are not HR issues; they are leadership issues.

Both politics and D&I are not easy topics, but they shouldn’t be difficult to talk about. As citizens and as leaders, we have to be open to engaging in the conversation. If we show a willingness to come to the table on difficult issues, maybe those in office will follow suit. If we create safer office environments for all to feel included and valued, maybe the barriers we have been living with will break down. These require long-term, incremental changes. Progress will not happen overnight, but it will happen. As Vernā Myers tells us, “The approach we need is courage.”

Now, more than ever, leaders need to learn how to embody the principles of democracy and of diversity and inclusion on a daily basis. Only then can we lead effectively across difference. This is important for our organizations, for our communities, and for our country.

When we’re at the polls, we are in the best position we can be to create change. And when we’re at the office, we are in the best position we've ever been to move diversity and inclusion forward. Together, we can make a difference.