Outdoor apparel company Patagonia is donating $1 million to various voting rights groups as a direct response to Georgia’s restrictive voting law. They are just one of many “woke” corporations that have spoken out against legislation that gives undeniable Jim Crow vibes.
According to a lengthy press release on Monday, the clothing company condemned Republican Governor Brian Kemp for signing legislation that directly responds to the 2020 Presidental election that caused a landslide loss for Donald Trump’s run for a second term.
Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert challenged other corporate leaders to stand in solidarity with Black CEOs and business leaders as a call to action in “denouncing these attacks on democracy.” The statement cites its inspiration from a quote by the late civil rights hero John Lewis’ essay, which speaks about voting as a powerful change agent in society
“Protecting our democracy is an all-hands-on-deck commitment that’s ongoing,” the statement said. “Standing in solidarity with Black CEOs and business leaders, I call on fellow CEOs to join in denouncing these attacks on our democracy and to do more than make a corporate statement. The strength of our democracy depends on every vote being counted everywhere, and we must protect access to the ballot box.”
Gellert goes on to list out things business leaders can do in solidarity with protecting democracy.
First, funding activists and organizations who are working to protect voting rights. Patagonia is making an immediate donation of $1 million to Black Voters Matter Fund and The New Georgia Project. He also calls for companies to suspend PAC contributions to politicians supporting voter suppression.
Secondly, write a letter to senators to pass the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The former works to end congressional gerrymandering, implement automatic voter registration and helps convicted felons vote. The latter addresses a Supreme Court decision that makes it easier for states to pass restrictive voting laws, much like Georgia’s controversial legislation.
The third asks business leaders to encourage corporate peers to speak out against any laws restricting voting access.
“From Florida to Iowa to Montana—47 states this year have introduced 361 other bills that would restrict voting rights…MLB has pulled the All-Star Game from Atlanta, and we need more businesses to take a stand and we can use our business networks to expand our advocacy. 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.”
Patagonia joins a growing list of major U.S. corporations that have condemned Georgia’s voting law and similar bills currently in the queue to pass across the country that explicitly targets voters from disenfranchised communities and groups. An estimated 28 companies have spoken publicly, including Exxon Mobil, UPS, Chase, Shake Shack, and Apple.
Last week, Major League Baseball pulled its All-Star Game and the draft from Atlanta over the voting law, claiming they “fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box.”