After donating $1 million to voting rights groups in Georgia, Patagonia is calling on more business leaders across the country to step up for the cause.
The effort comes as major players from Coca Cola to Major League Baseball to Delta take a stand against the restrictive laws in the latest wave of corporate activism. Many key GOP leaders, including former President Donald Trump and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, continue to rally behind the measures and have warned companies to stay on the sidelines.
But Patagonia is undeterred — and the company made one of the strongest statements about the issue so far.
“No matter who you voted for in November, democracy scored a major victory when nearly two-thirds of eligible voters cast a ballot. Two thousand CEOs came together to say it was important for their employees to make Time to Vote. And Republican and Democratic state and local election officials from every state confirmed there was no widespread fraud. In every county across the country, there were safe, secure elections,” Patagonia wrote in a post on its website.
The outdoor company, which has long been a leader in corporate social responsibility, specifies three actions that leaders should take to protect voting rights.
First, prioritize funding and supporting voter registration efforts, it said. “At Patagonia, we are making an immediate $1 million donation split equally between the Black Voters Matter Fund and The New Georgia Project. We don’t have a PAC (political action committee), but if your company does, please consider suspending contributions to any politician suppressing votes from people of color.”
Patagonia said executives should also send letters to senators that represent states where companies conduct business. In them, they should ask political leaders to pass two legislative measures — For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — that would make it easier to vote and target states with a history of discriminatory policies
Finally, leaders should encourage businesses to take action against states that restrict voter access. Already, Major League baseball has pulled the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta in wake of the Georgia move. “We need more businesses to take a stand, and we can use our business networks to expand our advocacy,” Patagonia said. “Opting to stay silent while the constitutional rights of voters in Georgia and across our country are being threatened is tantamount to supporting these unjust laws. Our colleagues, clients and customers won’t forget what we do in this moment.”
Last week, Under Armour, H&M and Levi’s and REI were among the 200 major companies who joined together to come out against proposals that restrict voting. Hundreds of bills on the issue are under consideration in states across the country.
The new efforts come after many fashion and footwear players, including Patagonia, Coach, Steve Madden, Birkenstock, Nike and many other firms unveiled significant get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of the 2020 election.