The new statement could come early this week, the people said, and would build on one that 72 Black executives signed last month in the wake of changes to Georgia’s voting laws. Mr. Chenault told executives on the call that several leaders had signaled they would sign on, including executives at PepsiCo Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc., T. Rowe Price Group Inc. and Hess Corp., among others, according to the people. PayPal confirmed it has signed the statement. PepsiCo, T. Rowe Price and Hess didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express Co., and Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck & Co., urged the leaders to collectively call for greater voting access, according to several people who attended. Messrs. Chenault and Frazier warned businesses against dropping the issue and asked CEOs to sign a statement opposing what they view as discriminatory legislation on voting, the people said.
OVER 200 US COMPANIES THAT CALLED OUT CHANGES TO VOTER LAWS REQUIRE ID FOR EMPLOYMENT “It’s really a no-win situation from a corporate standpoint,” the executive said.
Ticker Security Last Change Change % AXP AMERICAN EXPRESS CO. 147.81 +0.77 +0.52%MRK MERCK & CO., INC. 76.29 +0.77 +1.02%PYPL PAYPAL HOLDINGS, INC. 266.77 +2.27 +0.86%SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 113.18 +0.14 +0.12%PEP PEPSICO, INC. 142.57 +0.03 +0.02% GEORGIA REPUBLICANS REQUEST COKE PRODUCTS BE BANNED FROM THEIR OFFICES
Plenty of companies remain wary of wading into politically charged areas. One executive from a Fortune 100 consumer-products company said board members, employees and vendors are pressing leaders to speak out, but doing so could put a bull’s-eye on the company. As more companies and their leaders have spoken out on the issue in recent weeks, their stands have drawn the ire of Republican state and federal legislators who say companies are miscasting the matter and shouldn’t act as shadow lawmakers. Meanwhile, activists and others have said that the actions leaders are taking aren’t strong enough. Many CEOs now feel a duty, or pressure, to make their views explicitly known to employees and others, executive advisers said.
Mr. Blank, a co-founder of Home Depot Inc., also said some fans are expecting the NFL to say more now compared with five years ago when NFL player Colin Kaepernick first spoke out on racial justice, the people said. Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who also owns the Atlanta United soccer team and PGA Tour Superstore, said on the call he believes a large share of fans of the National Football League, Major League Soccer and Professional Golfers’ Association want the groups to make their positions known on voting rights, people on the call said.
Mr. Aron and an AMC spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment. Ms. Kuhn and Ms. Forester de Rothschild said they were proud to support the statement. Some leaders spoke out in favor of signing on to the new statement, including AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. CEO Adam Aron, Inclusive Capital Partners head and Estée Lauder Cos. director Lynn Forester de Rothschild and CyberCore Technologies CEO Tina Kuhn, according to people familiar with the call. Others didn’t. Mellody Hobson, the chairwoman of Starbucks Corp., said on the call that political unrest is bad for business and executives should work together on voting issues as states consider legislation and as the trial over George Floyd’s killing continues, the people said. Ms. Hobson declined to comment through a spokeswoman.
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