The JUST Report: Georgia On My Mind

Jay Owen Reforming Global Finance, SRI/ESG News

“We at Ethical Markets are appalled at this vote-suppression legislation in Georgia and urge all corporations to object and hasten its repeal!  Never has the case for the bill S1 on assuring voting rights and our democratic institutions been more urgent, so as to preempt all the similar “Jim Crow” bills from enactment in other states!

Hazel Henderson, Editor“

Georgia On My Mind

 

Nearly a week after Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, signed into law an overhaul of the state’s voting system, CEOs of some of America’s largest corporations have begun to voice their opposition to what they say is restrictive legislation that makes it harder for Americans to vote.

The corporate response, muted at first, grew in volume after 72 Black executives – including JUST 100 leaders Kenneth Frazier and Kenneth Chenault – called on companies on Tuesday to weigh in on Georgia’s new legislation, along with other voting bills that have popped up around the country. By Wednesday, the CEOs of Atlanta-based Delta and Coca-Cola responded to critics calling the bill a deliberate attempt to curb Black Georgians’ access to voting.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian called it “unacceptable” and unaligned with Delta’s values, and said that “the entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie” around mass voter fraud – a statement that has brought him into conflict with Kemp, who denies the criticisms. Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey used similar language, and said that the legislation needed to be “remedied.” Executives from Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, Apple, Home Depot, and others, as well as the Business Roundtable, also released statements with varying levels of specificity around the Georgia bill, mainly sticking to supporting access to voting as a concept. It remains to be seen whether these companies will face boycotts, as some reports have suggested, either by the Georgia bill’s supporters, or even by its opponents, who criticize them for not doing enough.

Our polling suggests that 57% of Americans believe companies can have a significant impact by advocating to roll back laws that have restricted voting rights for groups disproportionately affected, including Black Americans. And in our most recent survey – fielded in collaboration with our partners at The Harris Poll – we found that 95% of Black Americans agree that it’s important for large companies to promote racial equity and 80% think companies can do more to help achieve racial equity in America.

This issue isn’t going away. Democracy, equity, and the protection of basic rights and freedoms are central tenets of a just economy and a just society. We will be tracking it closely.

Be well,
Martin

This Week in Stakeholder Capitalism

Accenture rewards its employees with an additional week of pay as a thanks for their hard work throughout COVID-19.

Chipotle discloses its pay bands and salaries by job title with a transparent and accessible visualization.

Chobani provides vaccines for its employees at the factories where they work.

Citigroup’s new CEO initiates “Zoom-free Fridays” and hybrid work weeks in a drive to reset work-life balance.

Darden Restaurants commits to providing a $10 minimum wage, as well as more than $17 million in bonuses.

J.P. Morgan Chase unveils a plan to hire 300 more Black and Latino advisors by 2025 as part of its $30 billion commitment to advance racial equality.

What’s Happening at JUST

Martin wrote an editorial for Envestnet on stakeholder capitalism and shareholder activism, and was quoted alongside investment luminaries Larry Fink and Robert Eccles on what advisors need to know about sustainable investing in 2021.

The New York Times shines a light on the anxiety shared by retail and fast-food workers in states like Mississippi and Texas, which have rolled back statewide mask mandates. As we show in our recent workplace health and safety survey – which was highlighted in HR Drive this week – now is the time to double down on safety measures to protect workers.

Our Worker Financial Wellness Initiative partner, Zeynep Ton of the Good Jobs Institute, pens a must-read Op-Ed in Politico describing why it’s critically important to start measuring how well companies treat their workers, especially when it comes to pay.