American corporations have become less shy about taking sides in political controversies.
When the leaders of more than 100 American corporations, including Google, Bank of America and Delta Airlines, spoke during a mid-April conference call, their senior leadership expressed concerns about proposed changes to US electoral laws. Typically, corporations avoid taking positions on hot-button issues to avoid alienating any portion of their customer base.
After the state of Georgia enacted new election rules that in part limit the early voting that was considered key to US President Joe Biden’s victory, some executives expressed public condemnation. “We’re concerned about efforts to restrict voting at a local level,” tweeted Kent Walker, a senior vice president at Google.
Fears that other states could follow with similar laws triggered more corporate action. Prompted by Yale professor of management Jeffery Sonnenfeld, who convened the April conference, some executives—such as from Georgia-headquartered Delta and Coca-Cola—expressed anger and discussed pulling funds from the state.
“The largest airlines are also with [Delta],” said Sonnenfield on NPR. “So, by the way, if somebody wants to boycott an airline, hopefully they have their own corporate jet.”
Not all corporations were ready to jump into the fight. Retailer Home Depot, led by Ken Langone, an early supporter of former President Donald Trump, tried to steer away from the contro-versy.
In recent years, American corporations have become more vocal regarding controversial political topics. Dick’s Sporting Goods supported efforts to impose stricter gun controls. The National Collegiate Athletic Association boycotted the state of North Carolina in 2016 due to a law limiting LGBTQ+ rights, including restrictions on which bathrooms people could use. And last year over 40 companies including Coca-Cola, Ford, Hershey and Unilever boycotted Facebook and other social media giants because they thought the operators weren’t doing enough to remove hate speech from their platforms.