CEOs across industries are working together to present a new push against restrictive voting legislation currently being considered in Texas and other states.
CEOs and other senior leaders had a zoom conference this past weekend to decide how they should move forward and address the controversial issue. A number of executives present at the virtual gathering expressed concern about the bills, saying some of them were racist or too restrictive. Several of the participants emphasized that this was an effort that aimed to protect democracy and not a partisan matter.
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor and one of the main people involved in organizing the virtual gathering said that many corporate leaders are concerned that voting legislation could affect employees or other stakeholders.
“They don’t want wedge issues,” he said. “They just don’t want angry constituencies. It’s not in the interest of business.”
Furthermore, Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co. called on leaders to collectively demand for greater voting access and cautioned businesses against dropping the issue. They asked the rest of the CEOs to sign a statement opposing what they considered discriminatory legislation on voting, according to several people who were present at the virtual gathering.
Darren Walker, Ford Foundation President, said he plans on signing the new statement, and that in his conversations with CEOs, including Republican chief executives, most have said they don’t see the need for laws to tighten voter access, though many are fearful of speaking out.
Additionally, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said that he believes that many NFL, MLS, and PGA fans want to hear the league’s position on the subject.
Likewise, Mellody Hobson, chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation, mentioned that political unrest is bad for business so senior executives should find a way to work together on the matter.
An official statement may come this week with CEOs from companies such as PepsiCo Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc., T. Rowe Price Group Inc., and Hess Corp.