Corporate executives set to join effort to increase voter access in the wake of new voting laws: WSJ

In this Jan. 19, 2018, file photo, American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault listens during an interview with The Associated Press in New York. Chenault was chief executive officer and chairman of American Express until Jan. 31. In his last interview before retiring, Chenault talked to The Associated Press about the new tax law, being a black CEO, and what greater competition means for AmEx.
Kenneth Chenault.

  • Top business leaders met on Zoom this weekend to map out their response to new voting restrictions.
  • The WSJ reported that CEOs were asked to sign a statement opposing restrictive voting legislation.
  • “This is a nonpartisan issue, this is a moral issue,” Kenneth Chenault, former CEO and Chairman of American Express, told the Journal last month.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Numerous chief executives and senior leaders met on a Zoom call this weekend to map out how businesses should respond to new voting restrictions that are set to be enacted in Texas and other states across the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In the wake of the controversy surrounding Georgia’s new voting law, SB 202, with Major League Baseball pulling the 2021 All-Star Game from the state and companies like Coca-Cola and Delta pushing back against restrictive voting provisions, this effort would represent a significant development in the corporate sector weighing in on voting rights.

During the call, Kenneth Chenault, the former chief executive of American Express, and Kenneth Frazier, the chief executive officer of Merck & Co., asked the leaders to “collectively call for greater voting access,” according to the Journal report.

Chenault and Frazier, two of the most prominent Black business leaders in the US, also reportedly told businesses not to walk away from the voting right issue and requested that CEOs sign a statement “opposing what they view as discriminatory legislation on voting.”

The statement from a new constellation of business leaders could be released as soon as this week, according to the Journal.

Last month, 72 Black executives signed an open letter that was featured in The New York Times, asking for companies and business leaders to offer pushback against legislation that would infringe on voting rights.

Chenault informed the business executives on the call that several leaders would back the effort, including executives at PepsiCo, PayPal Holdings, T. Rowe Price, and Hess, among other companies.

“This is a nonpartisan issue, this is a moral issue,” he told the Journal last month.

Read more: Introducing Todd Young, the most important senator you’ve never heard of

Frazier said that as an increased number of states take up legislation similar to Georgia’s SB 202, companies have to take action.

“This is not a Georgia issue,” he told the Journal.

The Georgia law tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, and blocks the use of mobile voting vans, among other measures.

Mellody Hobson, the chairwoman of Starbucks Corp., said on the call that the controversies surrounding the new voting laws are “bad for business” and hopes that businesses can devise ways to work on voting issues, according to the Journal.

AMC CEO Adam Aron, Estée Lauder Cos. director Lynn Forester de Rothschild, and CyberCore Technologies CEO Tina Kuhn all reportedly backed the new statement, according to the Journal report.

As some companies have become increasingly vocal about voting access, Republican leaders from Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have railed against pushback to the new legislation.

Kemp has accused business leaders of adhering to “cancel culture” and McConnell recently warned them not to become “a vehicle for far-left mobs.”

But some companies are hesitant to jump into any hotly-debated political issue altogether, aware that any position that take could alienate a portion of their business or customer base.

“It’s really a no-win situation from a corporate standpoint,” a Fortune 100 business executive told the Journal.

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More than 70 top Black business leaders are reportedly urging US companies to fight against Republican voting laws

Kenneth Chenault speaks onstage in 2018 and Merck CEO, Kenneth Frazier, speaks at a briefing on the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021
Kenneth Chenault speaks onstage in 2018 and Merck CEO, Kenneth Frazier, speaks at a briefing on the production of the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021

  • 72 Black executives are urging US companies to speak out about new voting laws, the NYT reports.
  • They claim the new bill, being advanced by Republicans, could restrict the rights of Black voters.
  • Former American Express CEO, Kenneth Chenault and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier are in charge of the letter.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Top Black business leaders in the US are calling on companies to fight against restrictive voting rights laws being put in place in at least 43 states, according to a report from The New York Times on Wednesday.

So far, 72 Black executives have signed a letter to American firms, urging them to publicly oppose new laws by Republicans that they said would restrict the rights of Black voters. It comes after Georgia signed a bill on March 25 that the business leaders allege is discriminatory against Black voters.

Former American Express CEO, Kenneth Chenault, who is now a director at Berkshire Hathaway, and Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier are spearheading the letter about the new voting bill, known as SB 202, or the Election Integrity Act of 2021.

Robert F. Smith, CEO of Vista Equity Partners, Mellody Hobson and John Rogers Jr., the co-chief executives of Ariel Investments, Raymond McGuire, a former Citigroup executive, and Roger Ferguson Jr., the chief executive of TIAA, are among the 72 signatories, the Times reported.

“As Black business leaders, we cannot sit silently in the face of this gathering threat to our nation’s democratic values and allow the fundamental right of Americans, to cast their votes for whomever they choose, to be trampled upon yet again,” the letter said, per a CNN report.

“We call upon our colleagues in Corporate America to join us in taking a non-partisan stand for equality and democracy. Each of us stands ready to work with you on what can and must be done,” it said.

Read more: I asked MyPillow whether it sells customer data to political committees. Mike Lindell called back – and things got interesting.

The letter doesn’t specifically mention companies’ names. But critics of the bill have called on major firms in Georgia, such as Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, to speak out after Gov. Brian Kemp signed it. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday in a public memo that “the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.”

Democratic officials and civil rights groups have criticized the new law, saying it suppresses voters, particularly those who are Black. President Joe Biden called it a “blatant attack on the Constitution” and likened it to “Jim Crow in the 21st century.”

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Chenault said: “What we’re calling on corporations to do is not just say they believe strongly in the right to vote. It’s to publicly and directly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit any individuals ability to vote.”

The election bill also says volunteers shouldn’t hand out water and snacks to voters waiting in line and there should be no “ballot selfies” taken. Another controversial measure is adopting stricter voter ID laws for absentee ballots.

Apple CEO Tim Cook is the most recent executive to condemn Georgia’s new election law. On Thursday, Cook said: “It ought to be easier than ever for every eligible citizen to exercise their right to vote.”

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10 ways to manage stress and stay calm under pressure as a business leader

stress migraine
Overloading your mind with too many to-dos can lead to burnout and emotional outbursts.

  • Business leaders can use certain techniques to minimize stress and burnout at work.
  • Managing your daily workload, practicing delegation, and scheduling downtime can help reduce anxiety.
  • Building supportive professional relationships can also help leaders avoid being short-tempered and prone to outbursts.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

One of the most valuable attributes of a good business professional and leader is to be able to control emotional outbursts, to maximize your credibility and respect, and to maintain your own health.

The best of you train yourselves to show emotions sparingly and strategically, while the rest are convinced that emotions cannot be controlled, and are a function of culture and genetics.

Based on my own many years as a business executive and advisor, I have seen many professionals “mature” from hotheads to people who are cool and calm under pressure, becoming better leaders and decision makers in the process. 

With some coaching and mentoring from other leaders, I was able to do it myself. So I know you can do it too, by committing to the following strategies:

1. Train yourself to always look for positives, not negatives

Optimistic business leaders see value in every new business challenge, rather than stress and risk. You must recognize that change is the norm in business, so problems represent opportunities to learn something new, and improve your productivity and the competitiveness of the business.

2. Write down your top five core values and review them often

Pressure and emotion in business is often an indication of core value conflicts. Once you see and understand the conflict, it’s easier to make a decision, respond rationally, or simply remove yourself from the role. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, or be everything to everyone.

3. Create a short to-do list at the beginning of each day

A mind overloaded with a large and growing list of critical items is not efficient, and will always be prone to burnout and emotional outbursts. I recommend a three-item high-priority list for focus. Then limit the external interruptions, so you can comfortably and effectively address each one, and more.

4. Practice delegation and decline unreasonable requests

Learn how to courteously turn back requests outside your realm of responsibility, and recommend others who may be more qualified. The most respected business leaders know their limitations, and are not afraid to admit them. Do the same for any commitments to the community and family.

5. Never schedule more than 80% of your time

Pressure and emotion become dominant when your schedule is overloaded, or too many predictable interruptions occur. Of course, most professionals are optimistic, so they tend to over-commit and underestimate work requirements. We all need a buffer to handle those special cases.

6. Put more focus on building the right relationships

Since business is generally not rocket science, relationships with peers, partners, and customers are often more important than skills. Find time in your work schedule for networking, working lunches, and business conferences, where you can test your ideas, learn, and generate support.

7. Define a clear break between work and private activities

Practice a ritual, such as a cup of coffee with a peer, to define your workday beginning, and maybe tea with your spouse to reset to family time. Then diligently don’t let these worlds intrude on each other, except in emergencies. Use the transition to reset stress pressures and emotions.

8. Never use emotion as a substitute for preparation

Effective business professionals always prepare for tough issues and key meetings by doing their own research and getting early counsel from experts and coaches. Not only do they do the homework, but they prepare mentally and physically to be at their best, rather than on the edge.

9. Take satisfaction from wins to balance against setbacks

No one in business wins every battle, so frustration on any issue needs to be offset by other wins and achieving incremental thresholds along the way. For most of us, this requires setting aside some contemplative time on a daily basis to measure key item progress and enjoy small wins.

10. Maintain at least one non-work passion for energy balance

Everyone needs a focus outside of work, such as a hobby, exercise regimen, or sports, to grant relief from work pressures and reset emotions. Emotional outbursts and losing one’s cool are often indicative of burnouts and pending meltdowns. Spread your energy to family as well as work.
 
Don’t let anyone tell you that what you can accomplish is limited by your culture or old habits. Everyone has the ability to control their own actions and emotions, which I find to be the keys to success in most business roles.

I encourage you to learn and practice the strategies outlined here, to minimize stress, and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.

Read the original article on Business Insider