More than 100 business leaders took part in a Zoom call on Saturday to discuss ways they can counter new voting rules, which many see as a step to reduce electoral participation.
Their call was convened in response to new rules in Georgia signed by the governor on March 31, which critics say is bringing back restrictions from the Jim Crow era.
One of the most controversial elements is a rule that early voting for some elections cannot take place on Sundays – a move that critics see as an attack on the ‘souls to the pollls’ work of many black-majority churches – and a ban. about handing out food and drink to those queuing to vote.
Last month, 72 black executives signed a letter criticizing Georgian law, which advocates say is intended to make elections safer.
On Saturday’s call, many senior business executives spoke out for a new letter from many more executives, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management who helped convene the meeting.
On Oct. 12, voters will line up in Decatur, Georgia – a state that has passed new voting laws
“They don’t want wedge issues,” Sonnenfeld said The Wall Street Journal
They just don’t want angry constituencies.
“It’s not in the interests of business.”
Among the companies that have said they would support measures to condemn the new laws are Pepsi, PayPal and T. Rowe Price, said Kenneth Chenault, the former CEO of American Express, who organized the letter from the black executives.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, an impartial law and policy institution, five bills containing new voter restrictions have been passed across the country so far, with 55 restrictive bills in 24 states under consideration by lawmakers.
Mellody Hobson, chairman of Starbucks’ board of directors, said on the call that political unrest is bad for business, the WSJ reported.
She said business leaders should work together on voting issues.
Mellody Hobson (above) was one of the executives who spoke out against the new laws
Hobson said the bills had the potential to cause unrest, which was bad for everyone
Home Depot founder and NFL owner Arthur Blank said fans expect answers from companies
Arthur Blank, founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons NFL team and the Atlanta United soccer team, as well as the PGA Tour Superstore, said he believes many sports fans want the groups to make their views on voting rights known.
Blank said he felt sports fans expected more from their teams compared to five years ago, when NFL player Colin Kaepernick first spoke out about racial justice.
Lynn Forester de Rothschild, director of Estee Lauder, said she was proud to support a statement against restricting voter participation.
Forester de Rothschild is the founder of the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, a group dedicated to bridging the wealth gap.
Many of the business leaders on the phone have not spoken up and concerns remain about a backlash.
Voters will be in Smyrna, Georgia in October 2020. Two dozen states are considering new bills
Donald Trump has condemned the move by Coca Cola, Major League Baseball, Delta Air Lines, Citigroup, ViacomCBS, UPS and other companies to speak out against Georgian law.
Baseball officials decided to move the All-Star Game from Georgia to Colorado this summer due to the vote-down bill.
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, who plans to sign the new statement, said many CEOs have told him they don’t see the need for laws to tighten voter access.
But, he said The Washington Post, many are afraid to speak out.
“There is no more difficult job in America today than running a publicly traded company,” he said.
“There are so many stakeholders who have an opinion about what your company’s priority should be, and who have views that are sometimes diametrically opposed.”