Business leaders should speak up for democracy, LinkedIn co-founder urges

Posted October 19, 2020 12:23 p.m. EDT

— LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman wants his fellow business leaders to unite around one thing -- the need for a calm election in which every vote is counted.

"Business leaders need to speak up and they need to speak up on the democratic process," Hoffman told CNN's Julia Chatterley Monday. He urged his corporate counterparts to forget past fears about meddling in politics, because of the unique nature of the 2020 election.

"We need to make sure that we do count all the votes -- and speaking up on this topic is not actually, in fact, being 'political,'" he said. During the Covid-19 pandemic, record numbers of voters are requesting absentee ballots in some states. The additional time needed to receive and count these votes is sparking fears of a drawn-out or contested election result.

More than 100 business leaders have signed on to a statement, including Hoffman, calling for three things: elected leaders and election officials to "encourage civility" as the country waits for the ballots to be counted, the media to avoid rushing to declare an outcome and business leaders to promote "patience, civility, security, and accurate information." Other signatories include the founders of Ben & Jerry's, Managing Director of DE Shaw and President of Patagonia.

Hoffman argues it is in the business community's self-interest to avoid a messy, contentious election process, not just as good corporate citizens but also in order to maintain a healthy economy.

"What's important is that we come together as a country. What's important is business needs stability and calm in order to invest and build the future," he said.

Wall Street is more worried about a contested election than it is about coronavirus, as investors fear political gridlock could drive market volatility. Fitch ratings agency has warned it could also cost America its AAA credit rating.

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