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Black business leaders claim a right to vote for companies

Black business leaders claim a right to vote for companies

Dozens of American executives are calling on most black directors to speak out against their white peers ’efforts to limit black voters’ access to the polls amid debate over new voting legislation. Georgia.

A letter Organized by former American Express CEO Ken Chenault and Ken Frazier the outgoing CEO It was signed by Merck’s 72 leading black companies and calls on companies to support rhetorical support with their public platforms and lobbying power to gain access to equality.

The unprecedented campaign places voting rights as the next battlefield on which business will be negotiated. It also establishes a potential clash with the Republican Party, which will push black voters to push for dozens of new election laws.

“Our commitment to democracy is too much to keep on the sidelines. Corporate America must uphold the basic democratic principles of our nation and focus its collective influence on ensuring fairness and equity for all, ”the writers argued.

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, U.S. leaders have sparked commitments to do more to address racial injustice, and their commitment is being questioned. Entrepreneurs including the Black Voters Matter campaign accused Georgian-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines and UPS are doing too little to oppose new voting restrictions in that state.

“The main limitation of Georgia’s moves in this country is to limit access to voting,” Frazier told CNBC’s new business on Wednesday.

Courts have accused Republicans of refusing Republican allegations that the 2020 election was tainted with fraud. “What we are saying is that, state by state, unless there is proven and credible evidence of voter fraud, actions to reduce the ability of eligible voters must be opposed,” he said.

Chenault told CNBC: “What we have heard from corporations are general statements about the right to vote and support for the removal of voters. But now we are asking. [them to] put those words into action “.

They were among the executives who signed the letter Mellody Hobson, A new Starbucks chair; Ariel Investments its executive John Rogers; and Robert F Smith, Founder of Vista Equity Partners.

Delta, one of the Atlanta-based companies in recent campaign views, made a stronger statement on Wednesday, saying Georgia’s new legislation was “unacceptable” and would make it harder for black voters, especially black voters. .

“All the reasoning for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread fraud in Georgian voters in the 2020 elections. That is not true. Unfortunately, this excuse is being used in states across the nation that are trying to pass similar legislation to reduce the right to vote, ”said Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive.

Brian Kemp, the governor of Georgia, backed down in response, citing the dangers of companies talking about an issue that many executives see as political in themselves.

“The statement made today by Delta CEO Ed Bastian contrasts sharply with his conversations with the company, ignores the content of the new law and unfortunately continues to spread the same false attacks that partisan activists repeat,” Kemp said.

Other companies made favorable statements to the authors of Wednesday’s letter. Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, said it was “essential for business communities to come together” to oppose “harmful” legislation in Georgia and elsewhere.

Advisors say many executives are concerned about being dragged into the political struggle.

“What I’m hearing from my clients is a bridge very far away,” said Richard Edelman, the director of public relations consulting at the same name. “The CEOs are very shy right now. They don’t want to get into politics. They think it’s a red flag issue for Republicans, and they think it’s beyond their power. “

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management, said companies are fearing retaliation including boycotts from the right. But he argued that they should have taken a more courageous stance: “They advise wrongly and cautious public relations advisers badly.”

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