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Why a Strong Census Is Key to Strong Businesses

Shira Cavanaugh

For an inside look at the growing roster of 2020 Census partners, we asked ReadyNation, part of Council for a Strong America, what motivated the organization to engage its network of more than 2,700 business executives about the importance of responding to the 2020 Census.

Here’s our Q&A with ReadyNation Deputy Director Jeffrey Connor-Naylor, who manages census-related activities for the organization.

Businesses can play a tremendous role in achieving a strong 2020 Census by encouraging their employees and customers to participate now.

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Organization Name: ReadyNation

Location: Washington, D.C.

Organizational Mission: ReadyNation leverages the experience, influence and expertise of over 2,700 business leaders to promote public policies and programs that build a stronger workforce and economy. Since 2006, ReadyNation members have made a bottom-line case for effective, bipartisan investments in children as the future workforce that will drive success in the global marketplace.

Census Bureau Partner Since: 2018


ReadyNation co-founder Rob Dugger, joined by Scholastic Corporation executives and other private sector leaders set to attend the conference, rang the NASDAQ closing bell in honor of the ReadyNation 2018 Global Business Summit on Early Childhood.

Tell us about ReadyNation and its members.

ReadyNation is a free, private business membership organization supporting business leaders to promote research-based investments that help prepare children to succeed in education and life while also strengthening workforce development and the economy.

Our virtual network includes current and former CEOs from Fortune 500 companies, senior leaders from small- and medium-sized enterprises as well as  business membership organizations, including chambers of commerce, trade associations and business roundtables.

What motivated you to collaborate with us?

The 2020 Census is important to ReadyNation for a range of reasons. First, our business leader members rely on accurate census information to make strategic business decisions that affect the success of their companies.

In addition, data from the decennial census contributes to our understanding of the hurdles that young people and their families face which, in turn, helps identify research-based policy solutions that will also benefit the economy.

Finally, we want to make sure that the public resources we advocate for are reaching the children and families who need them. Accurate census information ensures this funding is effectively allocated.

How is ReadyNation supporting the 2020 Census?

ReadyNation has developed a national initiative – Business for the 2020 Census – that demonstrates strong business support for the census across industry sectors. The initiative features a taskforce comprised of leadership from major companies, trade associations and business member organizations.

One of the initiative’s primary objectives is to provide materials and technical assistance to help companies encourage their employees and customers to complete their census questionnaires.

This includes national and state-specific toolkits, a clearinghouse of resources and examples of how businesses are supporting this year’s count. All materials are publicly available on our website and distributed through our free census business network.

In addition to our national initiative, our ReadyNation California office was selected by the state of California to lead business engagement on its 2020 Census complete count effort.

As a result, we have built a statewide network of business leaders to encourage businesses that serve or employ members of historically undercounted groups to participate and share timely and accurate census information and resources.

Other ReadyNation state offices are also helping businesses support the count, especially those in Colorado, Ohio, Illinois and Texas.

Why is counting everyone in the census important to the businesses you serve?

A strong census is critical for a thriving economy. For most companies, data from the census serves as a key ingredient in the market and economic analyses used to make data-driven business decisions.

As the only nationwide count of all people in the United States, census surveys contribute vital information about customers, the workforce and the economic landscape.

Even if a company purchases market research from an independent firm, it is highly likely that census data was instrumental in its creation. A strong census equals strong businesses.

Do your members use Census Bureau data? If so, can you provide a few examples?

ReadyNation members lead and represent companies of all sizes across a diverse range of industries. What most of them have in common is that they use census data to make strategic decisions that impact their bottom line.

Retail companies, for example, use information from Census Bureau surveys to identify new locations for stores and determine what products and services to offer at those locations based on who lives nearby.

Similarly, when expanding operations, manufacturing companies use Census Bureau data to determine which regions have the best workers for their needs, low housing costs and limited commuting times.

Census information is also used to plan marketing campaigns and helps the real estate industry understand trends in communities across the country.

What advice or suggestions would you give to other organizations and businesses that want to support a complete and accurate count in their community?

Businesses can play a tremendous role in achieving a strong 2020 Census by encouraging their employees and customers to participate now.

If you don’t know where to start, there are many partners that can provide support alongside the Census Bureau, including local complete count committees and our Business for the 2020 Census initiative.

There is also a range of activities companies can consider doing now to get involved.

Employers can encourage their employees to complete the census questionnaire by including language in a company-wide email or on an employee website, or discussing the census at a virtual employee event.

Before the public health crisis, Tyson Foods partnered with community-based organizations in Arkansas to form a multilingual team to speak one-on-one with employees about the importance of the census for their family and community.

Some companies are including census information on their website and on their social media accounts such as T-Mobile, or including information in customer bills, such as DTE Energy.

Univision is developing PSAs (public service announcements) in addition to many other activities, and Nickelodeon and Sesame Street have developed social media assets and videos with their characters to encourage parents to include young children on their census forms.

ReadyNation built a census toolkit with Wells Fargo for small business owners in California and a video series encouraging residents to participate in the 2020 Census.

In addition, Wells Fargo developed a Census 2020 Toolkit with resources including a Wells Fargo Stories article, “5 Things to Know about the 2020 Census,” a sharable social tile “I’ve been counted in the 2020 Census” for use on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and an ATM ad promoting the census that was featured on 13,000 Wells Fargo ATM transaction screens in the month of April.

Companies of any size can help achieve a complete count. There are many partners to help them get engaged and many ways they can make a difference.


Shira Cavanaugh is the National Partnership Program's communications manager at the Census Bureau.



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