Democracy in the U.S.: It Is Time for Us to Move Forward Together
November 10, 2020
A message from Andrew Kassoy, CEO of B Lab Global, Bart Houlahan, CEO of B Standards Trust, Anthea Kelsick Co-CEO of B Lab U.S. & Canada, and Ben Anderson, Co-CEO of B Lab U.S. & Canada
The B Corp Movement’s vision of an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economic system for all requires a thriving democracy in which everyone can vote, everyone’s vote is counted, and everyone’s voice is heard. Many of us have been deeply anxious that our election systems couldn’t stand up to threats of violence and exclusion — but thanks to the vigilance and hard work of many grassroots organizations, businesses, and individuals across the country this election season, the democracy of the United States of America has been reaffirmed.
A record breaking number of Americans cast their votes this year, and the American people have elected Joe Biden as the next President of the United States, and made history electing Kamala Harris as Vice President — the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian American person to hold the office.
This has been a hard fought and close election, and has revealed that we remain a deeply divided nation. While we need to allow for a legal process to play out, we must remain vigilant that it affirms, not undermines, our democracy. Even as that happens, it is time for us to move forward together.
We face a series of compounding and interconnected crises that we must urgently address. The COVID-19 pandemic and consequential economic crisis, the climate emergency, and our reckoning with racial injustice all point to the fact that we don’t have the resilient systems we need. It is time to get to work changing those systems — like many B Corps have demonstrated through commitments like pledging their businesses to be anti-racist, to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2030, to capping CEO pay at 10 times that of their lowest paid worker. B Corps are the model of what business in society needs to look like.
As leaders of B Lab, we continue to be inspired and humbled by B Corps’ leadership throughout the U.S. election season in ensuring that everyone could vote and that every vote counted. And this leadership shined all around the world: over 3,600 B Corps in 74 countries have had their eyes on this election and supported their fellow B Corps in America. The B Lab Global Network commends and stands with all of these change-makers in supporting the outcome of the U.S. democratic process, and we thank you for everything that each of you do every day to build bridges, to care for your stakeholders, and to fight for a future where all of us — and our planet — can thrive.
On a more personal level, we each wanted to share a few thoughts about what this time means to us:
Bart: “Four years ago, my better half, Chrissy Houlahan (formerly COO of B Lab), was concerned that the institutions that underpinned our democracy were threatened by increasing polarization and divisiveness. She ran for Congress on a platform of civility and decency. She flipped a seat that had been held by the opposition for 163 years, and last week she was re-elected. Over the course of two years in Congress, Chrissy has started and joined multiple bi-partisan caucuses; she has authored and passed bi-partisan legislation; and she has run two campaigns that have been focused on what she is for, not who she is against. There is a way forward for our nation — I’ve watched it firsthand — but it requires empathy, compassion, and compromise. Our community has a role to play to bridge this divide, rising above the corrosive rhetoric, and finding the commonalities we all share. In the words of late Congressman Elijah Cummings: ‘We are better than this.’”
Andrew: “Elections have always been a sacred event in my family. I’ve had my kids out there since infancy, knocking on doors and working at the polls, in order to ensure everyone has the same right to vote that I do. This weight put on elections is rooted in a family narrative about the American Dream; an optimistic, expansive, inclusive version of the American Dream in which people like my Jewish ancestors who immigrated here and had to fight for acceptance and for their rights, including the right to vote, can thrive, economically, physically, and emotionally. In recent times, it has often felt like that system was under assault and at risk, forcing me to reckon with the fact that too many people have been left out and that we will need empathy, action, and moral courage to change our trajectory. I am deeply hopeful that the result of this election will allow us to come together as a nation to reset our economic system so that it truly serves all of us.”
Anthea: “It has been incredibly inspiring to see this election end with unprecedented turnout, more civic engagement across sectors than ever before, and to see the multiple firsts that the new administration will bring including Kamala Harris as the first Black, first South-Asian-American, and first woman to hold the role of Vice President. I am so grateful for all the B Corp community did to get out the vote and uphold election integrity, and grateful to the grassroots organizations, particularly Black-led organizations that catalyzed the momentum behind this historic moment. There’s so much to be grateful for, and yet the shadow-side of this election is also very real. It revealed more proof of a broken system, a system that does not work for everyone, where racism and inequality remain deeply embedded. And it is a call to B Corps and the business community alike, to step up, be bold, use your voice and put your values front and center. There is much work to be done, and it’s critical we come together to tackle the very real issues that are still in our midst.”
Ben: “Each B Corp leader in certifying their company and joining the community signs the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. The final line states, ‘we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.’ When I joined the B Corp community as COO at Preserve, our company affirmed a commitment to this value system. It is this same common cause that led B Corps to support one another and their communities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, to stand up as antiracist companies, and to get out the vote via our ‘B Corps vote’ campaign to promote civic engagement. In advance of the election, B Corps committed to being 100% In for democracy via Civic Alliance, a non-partisan coalition of 800+ businesses. I believe and we believe together that the voters have spoken, we must respect their will, and together we must work as a nation to bridge our divisions. Our interdependence is an asset giving us the ingenuity and resolve to solve our society and our planet’s greatest problems.”
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