A Call for Corporate Responsibility Amidst the GA Voter Suppression Bill

Ed Bastian, the chief executive of Delta Air Lines / Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

On March 25th, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a voter suppression bill that further impedes voting in disenfranchised communities. This bill reduces the number of ballot boxes, minimizes the time frame of early voting, requires additional photo ID requirements, enables state officials to intervene with county election officials, and even bar groups from providing food and water to voters in long queues. As voter turnout and registration has been skyrocketing in many Republican states, these efforts are seen as a blatant attempt in preventing marginalized groups from voting.

In response to this legislation, more than 170 corporate companies had joined the political bandwagon in condemning these discriminatory practices. To stand in solidarity with accessible voting rights, many corporations have released public statements to oppose the measures stated in the GA Bill and have also called for fair and limitless elections in an effort to “protect democracy”. For instance, both CEOs of Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines, two prominent corporations headquartered in Georgia, have directly delivered abrupt statements to denounce this legislation.

Why is Important for Corporations to Speak on these Issues?

According to a recent Edelman poll of 33,000 consumers, 86% of them stated they expect CEOs to publicly speak on social issues. On the other hand, 68% of the same individuals, suggested that corporations should intervene when the government fails to improve these outcomes. Because of public outcry and employees’ concerns, many corporate leaders and professionals are pressured in speaking upon these issues which have been widely avoided beforehand. Historically, a majority of corporations have either struggled or neglected in taking a strong stance in regards to social and political issues. Because the year 2020 has changed the idea of how companies should get involved in social and political issues, many corporations are now expected to make commitments and drastic changes to eliminate racial and socio-economic obstacles.

Ever since the passage of this bill, there has been a non-stop surge of corporate statements that have threatened either the reduction of cancellation of major projects and initiatives in Georgia. Many corporations have gotten backlash from activists and advocacy groups as these corporations have endlessly given large contributions to fund Republican politicians that had written and supported the passage of this bill. Despite these connections, the passage of the bill has enabled many corporations to support the reverse and threaten boycotts that will jeopardize Georgia’s economic growth. For instance, the Major League Baseball’s announcement in shifting the All-Stars Game from Atlanta to Denver demonstrated larger implications that would harm Georgia’s economic prosperity. These voting restrictions have even caused the film and entertainment industry to reconsider their projects in Georgia. As of early April, Will Smith and Antoine Fuqua’s film “Emancipation” became the first major film to withdraw its production from Georgia due to the bill.

While corporations have made these commitments to exercise greater pressure on the Georgia legislature, inhibiting these projects will greatly derail financial commitments and economic opportunities in Georgia and thus gravely impact Georgians. Instead of calling upon boycotts and threats, it is greatly important for corporations to utilize their strong influence and large funds in lobbying for policies and initiatives that promote racial equity.

Written by: Manavi Anantula| IQ Associate

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