Mar 31, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Corporate America speaks on Georgia's voting restrictions

picture of the back of a person holding a sign that reads "georgia voters matter"

Demonstrators protest Georgia's voting law earlier this month. Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images

The floodgates are open. Almost a week after a bill that curbs voting access in Georgia became law — and nearly one month after it passed the state's House — a slew of corporations have come out against voter suppression.

Why it matters: In an era where businesses are more outspoken (and being pressured to be that way), their silence on this issue had been deafening.

  • Flashback: Activists called on Georgia-based companies (Delta, Coca-Cola, Home Depot) to use their political might and put pressure on politicians, to no avail. Then they threatened boycotts.

Driving the news: In an open letter out on Wednesday, over 70 Black executives demanded that corporate America take a stand against legislation that makes it harder to vote, as the New York Times first reported.

What they're saying: Delta CEO Ed Bastian, in a reversal on Wednesday: "I need to make it crystal clear that the final [Georgia] bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values."

  • "Let me get crystal clear and unequivocal. This legislation is unacceptable," Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey told CNBC on Wednesday.

The big question: When corporate action typically comes in the form of a press release, what took so long?

  • "When they really started to respond is when they started to get pressure from antagonists. What they should have done is gotten ahead of it," says Paul Argenti, a corporate communications professor at Dartmouth College.
  • Argenti says there's a slew of factors that go into when a company decides to speak out and how quickly — like if the issue aligns with corporate strategy.
  • "The right to vote? This is an easy one," Argenti says.

Go deeper: Track all the CEO statements here

Go deeper