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Article

20 Oct 2020

Author:
Bennett Freeman, Fortune

Commentary: More CEOs must stand up to protect democracy in the USA

[A] group of business leaders, mostly from technology companies and investment firms, issued an unprecedented statement supporting democratic elections amidst the current crisis... Their call is not too late. But it is too little in two critical respects.   

... [T]he statement fails to address explicitly the corollary issue alongside the integrity of the election: the peaceful transfer of power if the outcome requires one... Second, conspicuously absent among the signatories of last week’s election-integrity declaration are any current CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, or any senior executives or directors of any of the biggest companies in Corporate America or any of the biggest firms on Wall Street.

... American business leaders should recognize that they have an existential stake in the rule of law and accountable governance, in our civil rights and liberties, and ultimately in the credibility and durability of our democratic institutions that protect us from autocracy... Business leaders normally and understandably want to “stay in their lane” during presidential elections, even as many contribute to and some even endorse a candidate. But the current abnormal situation has crossed into their lane. Speaking out to avoid a fatal crash for American democracy is their responsibility too: to their employees and retirees; business partners and local communities; shareholders and other stakeholders... If that crash happens, there will be grave consequences not only for the U.S. but for democracies everywhere.  There will also be equally severe risks for U.S. multinational corporations—and those who depend on them—as their leaders try to navigate an even more turbulent and dangerous world.

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