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04/07/2021

Patagonia donates to fight for voting rights in Georgia; asks more CEOs to step up

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Patagonia

Patagonia is once again showing its activist stripes — and it wants other companies to follow suit.

The outdoor clothing retailer, a longtime advocate of corporate social responsibility, announced it is making an “immediate” $1 million donation to fight restrictive voting laws in Georgia and around the country. Patagonia’s  donation is being split evenly between two organizations: the Black Voters Matter Fund and the New Georgia Project.  

In a statement, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said that the new law gives people in power “the ability to challenge election results they don’t like.” 

“Governor Kemp claims the new law will shore up faith in the election system, but in reality, it will only make it harder for Georgians of all racial, socioeconomic and political stripes—especially Black voters—to elect their representatives,” Gellert said. 

In his statement, Gellert urged fellow business leaders to help fund the activists that are working to challenge the recently passed laws in Georgia and support voting registration efforts and to send a letter to the senators that represent the state(s) where they conduct business, calling on them to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.  

In addition, he urged them  to reach out to business partners “to facilitate speaking out against further state laws that would restrict voting access.”

“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,” Gellert said. “Our colleagues, clients and customers won’t forget what we do in this moment.”

Last week, Under Armour, H&M and Levi’s and REI were among the 200 major companies who joined together to come out against proposals that restrict voting. Gellert noted in his statement that 47 states this year have introduced bills that would restrict voting rights.

Patagonia has long been an active supporter of civic engagement. It broke new ground in 2018, when it made its first-ever political endorsements.  Since then, the company has taking a number of public stands, including waging a high-profile campaign against the Trump Administration’s efforts to eliminate federally protected lands.