Business leaders recalibrate to protect election integrity
United in their belief that a strong economy requires a strong democracy, a coalition of business and organizational leaders recently announced the Business & Democracy Initiative (B&DI), a partnership with the goal of protecting the integrity of elections in United States and restore confidence in democratic institutions.
The founding partners of the Business & Democracy Initiative are the Leadership Now Project, the Black Economic Alliance and Public Private Strategies.
“Business leaders across the country are worried about the health of our democracy. They understand that our economic dynamism depends on a capable and accountable government,” Daniella Ballou-Aares, CEO of the Leadership Now project, said in a public statement. “The Business and Democracy initiative will provide business leaders with the knowledge and platform to lead on issues – from preventing election crises to expanding civic engagement – and ensuring a strong economy for the next generation.”
A poll conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of B&DI indicates that the business community wants to be active in protecting democracy in the United States and that consumers will support it. The overwhelming majority of business leaders (96%) say a well-functioning democracy is important for a strong economy. Eighty percent of business leaders believe companies should act to protect democracy and ensure safe and fair elections.
Just over half of business leaders (51%) say their company is more likely than five years ago to encourage employees to take a stand or speak out for democracy, or take a public position as a company. Sixty-four percent of consumers say companies that publicly commit to democracy show that these companies care about their customers, their employees and have the “right values.”
The business community is well placed with the public to defend democracy and the integrity of elections, Ballou-Aares said, because business is more trustworthy than government and the media. Edelman’s Trust Barometer for 2022 reveals that the global level of trust in government and the media has fallen over the past year, she said, with businesses being the most trusted institutions ( 61%), for a second consecutive year.
Respondents to the Edelman survey believe the business community can and should do more to address societal issues, Ballou-Aares said. Business leaders, she said, need clear guidance on how to handle complex, often contentious issues to ensure they are aligned with their corporate values and doing the best they can. interests of their stakeholders.
Companies and business leaders are accountable to their customers and employees to represent principles, not political parties, Ballou-Aares told 3p. These principles, she said, must align with “our country’s most fundamental values - the rule of law and a participatory democracy”, and the B&DI coalition strongly supports these principles.
The coalition encourages business leaders to use their platforms to make public statements in support of U.S. election integrity by providing employees, customers and other stakeholders with facts and figures to mitigate misinformation, a- she declared.
Citing Freedom House research, Ballou-Aares noted that 45 of the world’s 50 largest companies operate in a democracy.
“China may have a strong economy, but at what cost? There are many contemporary examples of populist and authoritarian governments undermining business in countries like Brazil, Hungary, Turkey and China,” Ballou-Aares said. “In the United States, companies are increasingly threatened by targeted punitive regulations when they publicly disagree with political leaders in states like Florida, Georgia and Texas.”
The business community must unite against such retaliatory measures, she said, because “now is not the time to remain silent”.
Ballou-Aares told 3p that the Business and Democracy Initiative would not endorse any election candidate and would instead focus on mobilizing business leaders “committed to protecting elections and restoring trust in democratic institutions”.
“We seek to engage stakeholders at all levels of the company to advocate for reforms that address the threat to our democracy,” Ballou-Aares said. “As the health and stability of American democracy continues to be under grave threat, the business community is a vital voice in the fight to preserve our free, open, and democratic system.”
Image credit: Léon Kaye