Culture Hack

Culture Hack

Voter Suppression: White CEOs, Where You At?

During the 2020 presidential election, Georgia shocked most of the country by going blue. According to exit polls, 88% of Black voters supported President Biden in November and two months later, they showed up to the polls again to vote in Democratic Senators Jon Ossoff and Rachel Warnock, gaining 92% and 93% of the Black electorate’s support. In March, Georgia Republicans passed legislation that enforces new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, gives local state officials the power to take over election boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, and makes providing voters with sustenance a crime. 

After the state saw a record-breaking amount of voters during the 2020 election made possible by Black voters, it’s obvious that this is a move to suppress Black voters in a state they have changed politically. The dedication of voters this past November was evident in the long voting lines shown on the news, the incredible amount of social media content encouraging people to get to the ballots, and the unity among votes to practice their civil duty. After a year where the general public engaged with the government and practiced their rights, the new restrictions being implemented in Georgia is not okay and we need impactful figures in society to speak out about it. 

At the end of March, CEO Ken Frazier headed an effort to force corporate America to speak out against voter suppression. Along with other Black CEOs, the motivation comes at the possible threat to votes from people of color. Co-organizer Ken Chenault has stated that “there is no middle ground” when it comes to voting rights and that all corporations in the country have to take a stance against the new legislation and other attempts to diminish BIPOC votes. Melody Hobson, who recently became chair of Starbucks’ board and is the only Black chairwoman of an S&P 500 company, also signed up for these efforts to stop the silencing of Black votes. While the efforts are to protect all American votes, there is also a determination to lift voices that were once legally and societally silenced. 

Although the efforts to provide Black voters with a fair chance is being led by successful Black business owners, there is still a need for white CEOs to be allies for equality. A recent boycott and demand for immediate change by political officials, CEO’s, and outspoken community leaders forced big companies like Delta and Coca Cola to change their once supportive stance of the bill to now supporting and backing the concerns of Black voters. While these major companies have decided to use their corporate status as a way to bring attention to the matter at hand, we need more opposition. Business owners of color and community leaders should not be burdened with constantly being the whistleblowers on the issues impacting the BIPOC community. Because most of these decisions are made by white legislators who feel threatened by minority votes, we need White CEO’s to take a more proactive approach and in some cases position themselves as advocates and leaders of these movements.

During a time where it feels like ethnic identities are being attacked and racially fueled tragedies are being debated by politics on the news, it is imperative that we support all people’s right to vote. And in a country that values consumerism as the backbone of its economy, it’s up to CEOs who carry communal influence and deep pockets to ensure the freedom of all.