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Why Many C.E.O.s Are Silent on the Biden-Trump Rematch

·2 mins

Three years ago, corporate leaders openly spoke out against a former president over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. But as the former president leads in many polls this time around, most in the C-suite are staying quiet. In 2021, C.E.O.s publicly urged a peaceful transition of power. This time, leaders have largely stayed out of the political fray. Only a handful of executives have publicly supported the former president, who was willing to go after perceived enemies in corporate America when he was in office. And while there may be support for the current president behind the scenes, few have offered it on the record. Executives have mentioned election-related topics in earning calls in the second quarter as of June 24. It’s highly unlikely that tally will reach the number of times the topics were mentioned in 2020 during the same period. But this cycle is more in keeping with historical norms. In 2016, executives mentioned election-related topics. Why was 2020 an outlier? Perhaps it was the year’s extraordinary political volatility and the unique social dynamics of the coronavirus pandemic. The past four years have highlighted the potential danger of speaking up. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida waged war against one of his state’s biggest employers after the C.E.O. at the time spoke out against the legislation in Florida that activists have called the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill amid employee pressure. And Republican attorneys general have attacked companies over their environmental, social, and governance programs.