Business leaders call for ‘patience and civility’ ahead of US election, tying economic health to democracy

Business leaders call for ‘patience and civility’ ahead of US election, tying economic health to democracy

Business leaders are calling on Americans to be patient and civil ahead of the 2020 presidential election, citing the importance of maintaining confidence in democracy during the coronavirus pandemic.



Michael E. Porter wearing a suit and tie: Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter.


© David De La Paz
Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter.

More than 50 executives across the fields of tech, finance, retail, and real estate signed onto a statement released Wednesday by the Leadership Now Project, a group founded by Harvard Business School alumni focused on protecting democracy.

“America has successfully held elections through previous challenges, like the Civil War, World Wars l and ll, and the 1918 flu pandemic… we can and must do so again,” the group said in the statement. “As business leaders, we know firsthand that the health of America’s economy and markets rests on the founding principle of our democracy: elections where everyone’s vote is counted.”

The statement was backed by big names in business, including LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, former Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, and General Assembly chief executive Lisa Lewin. Massachusetts executives on the list include Seth Klarman of Baupost Group, Tricia Glynn of Advent International, Trinidad Grange-Kyner from Tufts Health Plan, and Eric Spindt from Commonwealth Financial Group.

The group emphasized that it could take weeks or more until election results are confirmed because of the number of citizens voting by mail this year. They asked Americans to stay calm, “making it clear that they will refuse to accept any results called too early or based on insufficient data.”

The statement also called on journalists to “avoid calling the election before sufficient data are available,” and asked business leaders to “promote patience and civility among employees, communities, and the American people.”

LinkedIn’s Hoffman wrote that “election results inaccurately or prematurely reported by journalists, elected officials or other leaders would erode faith in American democracy and cause havoc in the business world and beyond.”

Daniella Ballou-Aares, chief executive of the Leadership Now Project, said it is in the best interest of business leaders to protect the legitimacy of the election, adding that “stable, inclusive government leads to greater economic growth.”

“We are in the midst of a pandemic that has caused great hardship for Americans in the form of lost lives and livelihoods,” the group wrote. “We must now come together to ensure that the pandemic does not cause even greater damage by threatening the integrity of our election.”

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