While no final steps have been agreed upon, the meeting represents an aggressive numbering of Corporate America’s advocacy against controversial nationwide voting measures, a sign that their opposition to the laws did not end with the fight against the measure adopted last month in Georgia.
It also came just days after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned that business should ‘stay out of politics’ – echoing a view shared by many conservative politicians and sparking further conflict. potential between Republican leaders and the leaders of some of America’s biggest corporations. Earlier this month, former President Trump called on the Conservatives to boycott Coca-Cola, Major League Baseball, Delta Air Lines, Citigroup, ViacomCBS, UPS and more after opposing a new law in Georgia, which critics say will make it more difficult. the poorest voters and voters of color to vote. The MLB has decided to move its All-Star Game this summer from Georgia to Colorado due to the voting bill.
Saturday’s online call between business leaders “shows they aren’t intimidated by the flack.” They won’t be intimidated, ”Sonnenfeld said. “They were very convinced that these voting restrictions were based on a wrong premise and were dangerous.”
Executives from dozens of companies including Delta, American, United, Starbucks, Target, LinkedIn, Levi Strauss and Boston Consulting Group, as well as Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, participated in the week’s Zoom call. end, according to people who have listened. meeting was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The discussion was at times led by Kenneth Chenault, former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, chief executive of Merck, who told executives it was important to continue to fight against what they saw as laws. discriminatory voting rights. Chenault and Frazier coordinated a letter signed last month by 72 black business executives that made a similar point – a letter that first drew attention to executive suite vote bills across the country.
The aim of the call was to unify the companies that had released a wave of their own statements and signed statements drafted by different organizations following the passage of the vote by Georgia, Sonnenfeld said. Executives called from across the country – some came from Augusta, Georgia, where they were attending the Masters golf tournament.
“There was a contempt for threats that businesses should stay out of politics,” Sonnenfeld said. “They obviously rejected that even with their presence (on call). But they were there because they feared the voting restrictions might not be in the public interest. “
A Georgia-based leader explained how the final version of Georgian law – which Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (right) says actually expands access to the vote, a claim many have disputed – was much worse than expected, and how that should serve as a warning to other CEOs as more states consider passing their own voting bills, according to those in attendance.
Mike Ward, vice president of Civic Alliance, a non-partisan business group focused on voter engagement, said at the end of the Zoom call that he felt there was a broad consensus on the fact that business leaders planned to continue working against voting bills they deem restrictive. – “to lean into it, do not move away from it.