- Companies like Coca-Cola and Delta speak out against an electoral law in Georgia.
- Experts say that a “race for talent” drives companies to advocate progressive causes.
- In-demand employees are more concerned about voter suppression than election fraud.
- You can find more articles on Insider’s business page.
Brand boycotts are back.
As the staple of the Trump era, the chaotic politicization of brands has come back in full force with the passage of an electoral and electoral law in Georgia. The regulation has been criticized by progressives as an attempt to suppress voices. President Joe Biden called the bill “Jim Crow in the 21st Century”.
After Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed the law on March 25, a number of companies – including Coca-Cola and Delta – spoke out broadly against the bill and voter suppression.
Companies faced boycott threats from civil rights groups before explicitly denouncing the law. Companies like Delta and Coca-Cola are now facing the same threats from the right.
With boycotts looming on both sides, it may seem like a loss-loss proposition to take political positions. However, experts say companies that spoke out against the electoral law made the right choice – in large part because employees want to work for companies willing to stand up for their values.
“Businesses need to be aware of the views of the people they are trying to hire,” Tony Fratto, founder of communications consultancy Hamilton Place Strategies, told Insider. “And the most competitive people they are trying to recruit – these people can go to work.”
The “race for talent” urges companies to express themselves
One person is waiting for voters to arrive during the Georgia Senate runoff in January.
Brynn Anderson / AP
Fratto said the “race for talent” was a constant topic of discussion among his customers.
“They know that they are in a race for talent against their competitors, find the best people, and … be seen as an attractive place to work in every way, not just in terms of compensation,” said Fratto.
According to Fratto, by 2021 employees want to work in a place that reflects their values. When a company does not align with its moral compass, it is ready to look for jobs that do so elsewhere.
Companies struggle to recruit and retain highly qualified professionals with experience in their field. These in-demand workers are more concerned about voter suppression and less concerned about unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, Fratto said.
“If you have a college education, and especially a secondary school degree, the chances of fraud and election being stolen are far less likely,” he said. “They are much more interested in topics like climate change, gun violence and racial problems.”
Chris Allieri, founder of the branding consultancy Mulberry & Astor, said the concerns of employees in the “distributed and virtual” workplace are particularly relevant after a pandemic.
“Large companies with a young global workforce need to make decisions based on doing the right thing, rather than being overly concerned about a short-term setback for a segment of the population in a market,” Allieri continued. “You can’t pretend you’re concerned about voting rights in countries like Russia and China, but when it comes to Georgia, you look the other way.”
Companies also listen carefully to customers and investors
Allieri said employees are one of the many stakeholders that companies need to consider.
Customer concerns remain important. Just as well-trained professionals are in demand, younger customers with disposable income are usually a top priority for the company. And as Insider’s Josh Barro wrote in 2018, these target customers tend to be liberal.
“With American politics becoming more polarized by age and less polarized by income, most brands’ target customers tend to move left relative to the country’s political median, even if the average voter sits to the right of the country’s political median “, writes Barro.
Barro added, “There’s also the problem that conservatives are desperately uncool.”
According to Fratto, investor values and priorities also need to be considered. Investors, especially institutional investors, have shown more interest in corporate values and social issues in recent years. For example, Amazon has been criticized by pension groups in several states for its anti-union policies and occupational safety concerns.
There is not a single factor that led executives to speak out against Georgia electoral laws, given the threats of boycott by civil rights groups and unprecedented actions by black executives.
In the case of Delta, employees who took the floor reportedly served as a turning point in convincing CEO Ed Bastian to repeal the law after initially remaining silent on the matter.
Bastian has “received a number of emails about the law from Black Delta employees, who make up 21 percent of the company’s workforce,” the New York Times reported. “Finally, Mr. Bastian concluded that it was deeply problematic.”