Irony: Some called from Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia because it’s that state’s supposed restrictive voting laws that spurred their action.
The Wall Street Journal reported that over 100 corporate leaders gathered on a Zoom call to formulate a plan to push for “woke” voting laws.
Ironically, but not surprising, some of them attended the conference while at the Augusta National Golf Club, based in Georgia.
Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express Co. , and Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co., urged the leaders to collectively call for greater voting access, according to several people who attended. Messrs. Chenault and Frazier cautioned businesses against dropping the issue and asked CEOs to sign a statement opposing what they view as discriminatory legislation on voting, the people said.
A statement could come early this week, the people said, and would build on one that 72 Black executives signed last month in the wake of changes to Georgia’s voting laws. Mr. Chenault told executives on the call that several leaders had signaled they would sign on, including executives at PepsiCo Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc., T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Hess Corp. , among others, according to the people. PayPal confirmed it has signed the statement. PepsiCo, T. Rowe Price and Hess didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Other corporations involved: American Airlines, United Airlines, Atlanta Falcons, Levi Strauss, Walmart, Viacom CBS, Ariel Investments, LinkedIn, Twitter, and AMC Theatres.
Again, it’s ironic that some called from Augusta in Georgia. It’s Georgia’s supposed restrictive voting laws driving them to act:
“The gathering was an enthusiastic voluntary statement of defiance against threats of reprisals for exercising their patriotic voices,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale University management professor who helped organize the confab.
The corporate leaders “recognize that they need to step up to the plate and are not fearful of these reprisals,” he added. “They’re showing a disdain for these political attacks. Not only are they fortifying each other, but they see that this spreading of disease of voter restrictions from Georgia to up to possibly 46 other states is based on a false premise and its’ anti-democratic.”
It’s also ironic that the left wants big business to chime in and side with their antics. I thought the left hated big business.
One executive admitted, “It’s really a no-win situation from a corporate standpoint.”
Correct. You’re going to tick off a large portion of your consumer base no matter which side you choose.
Look at NBA great Michael Jordan. He mostly stayed away from politics during his career because “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” Jordan sticks by his statement 30 years later even though President Barack Obama wished he acted differently (emphasis mine):
“It’s never going to be enough for everybody, and I know that,” he said. “I realize that. Because everybody has a preconceived idea for what I should do and what I shouldn’t do.
“The way I go about my life is I set examples. If it inspires you? Great, I will continue to do that. If it doesn’t? Then maybe I’m not the person you should be following.”
But did anyone listen? Of course not:
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who also owns the Atlanta United soccer team and PGA Tour Superstore, said on the call he believes a large share of fans of the National Football League, Major League Soccer and Professional Golfers’ Association want the groups to make their positions known on voting rights, people on the call said.
Mr. Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot Inc., also said some fans are expecting the NFL to say more now compared with five years ago when NFL player Colin Kaepernick first spoke out on racial justice, the people said.
Mellody Hobson, the chairwoman of Starbucks Corp.’s board, said on the call that political unrest is bad for business and executives should work together on voting issues as states consider legislation and as the trial over George Floyd’s killing continues, the people said. Ms. Hobson declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
Some leaders spoke out in favor of signing on to the new statement, including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. CEO Adam Aron and CyberCore Technologies CEO Tina Kuhn, according to people familiar with the call. Another who spoke out in favor was Estée Lauder Cos. director Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who founded the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, a group that focuses on bridging the wealth divide, the people said. Others didn’t speak out.
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