A big show of corporate solidarity
Amazon, BlackRock, Google, Warren Buffett and hundreds of other companies and executives have signed a new statement opposing “any discriminatory legislation” that would make it harder for people to vote. The statement, which ran as a two-page ad in The Times, comes amid a flurry of voting-related proposals from Republicans that have generated competing calls for corporations to take a stand and to stay out of politics lest lawmakers retaliate, David Gelles and Andrew write in The Times. And just as notable as the names who signed the statement are those that didn’t.
The statement represents the broadest coalition yet to weigh in on the issue, coming after few big companies spoke up before a restrictive voting law passed in Georgia last month. “For American democracy to work for any of us, we must ensure the right to vote for all of us,” it reads in part. The statement came together over the past week and a half, organized by Ken Chenault, a former C.E.O. of AmEx, and Ken Frazier, the C.E.O. of Merck.
The statement says that the signers should “oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot,” a phrase that some wanted to remove, but which Mr. Chenault and Mr. Frazier considered crucial.
There are some notable omissions. Many companies declined to sign the statement, and some executives, such as Mr. Buffett, signed for themselves but not on behalf of their companies. Coca-Cola and Delta, which spoke out about the Georgia law after it was passed, declined to add their names, perhaps fearing more blowback for earlier statements and also not feeling the need to speak again. JPMorgan Chase also declined to sign the statement despite a personal request from senior Black business leaders to Jamie Dimon, who made a statement on voting rights before.
Why didn’t Walmart sign? Doug McMillon, the retailer’s C.E.O., who also chairs the influential Business Roundtable lobby group, sent a note to employees to explain the company’s position. “We are not in the business of partisan politics,” he wrote. “While our government relations teams have historically focused on core business issues like tax policy or government regulation, Walmart and other major employers are increasingly being asked to weigh in on broader societal issues such as civil rights.” The company didn’t sign the statement, but “we do want to be clear that we believe broad participation and trust in the election process are vital to its integrity,” Mr. McMillon said.
HERE’S WHAT’S HAPPENING
The latest round of bank earnings begins today. They’ll show a rebound from the pandemic, based on early examples: JPMorgan Chase reported $14.3 billion in profit for the first quarter of 2021, up from $2.9 billion a year ago, while Goldman Sachs reported $6.8 billion in earnings, up from $1.2 billion.