Where Michigan’s biggest companies rank in supporting pro-democracy policies

New report grades companies’ commitment to democracy

A new report from non-partisan group Accountable.US is grading companies based on their commitment to democracy, and whether or not the company is matching their rhetoric with their actions.

The majority of the country’s top 100 companies received failing grades when it came to supporting pro-democracy policies, according to a new report.

On that list, major brand names that impact most daily lives of voters, including three big Michigan based companies and dozens of others with large economic footprints in the state.

The companies were graded on an A-F scale, based on 14 different points including expressed public opposition to the January 6th insurrection on the US Capitol, has a company taken action or a stance on voting rights legislation encouraging access to voting and is the company being transparent about their political donations.

“There obviously, is a lot of work to do for companies to you know, match their rhetoric with their actions for democratic like towards democracy,” Tony Carrk, the executive director of Accountable.US, the non-profit group behind the scorecard.

The grades, however, are not good. Two-thirds of the companies on the list received an F. Among them, Dearborn and Detroit based Ford and GM, respectively.

Dow chemical, headquartered in Midland, received a “D”. There were other companies with major footprints in Michigan including Pfizer, which has a plant in Portage,

Amazon that has a large warehouse in Romeo and Marathon that has a refinery in Detroit also received “F” grades. Not a single company received higher than a B.

“I think it’s changed a lot thing,” Carrk said. “I would say, a decade ago or something, where the threats to democracy there, the stakes are higher. So that’s why we thought everyone has a role to play here.”

The threat to democracy is a major issue this election season, though it has taken a back seat to issues like abortion and economic issues like inflation. But earlier this year, particularly during televised hearings of the Select Committee Investigating January 6, concern over democratic backsliding rose.

The grades are also the latest in a trend of voters blending political power and purchasing power. Although not every shopper Local 4 talked to felt that way.

“It’s what I need for my family and myself. I’ll go anywhere that has something. That’s what I’ll buy,” Said Lawrence Gee who was sitting in his truck outside a Target in Troy.

“There are completely issues no doubt about it,” said another shopper who only asked to go by Meg.

But online, things were much more clear. According to an unscientific poll of WDIV Insiders asking whether they factor in politics when they shop, 90 percent said yes or sometimes.

Their responses were the same, saying things like “go woke stay broke,” “I try to spend money at places that support and promote the same values as myself,” and “I avoid any business that makes any political stand.”

Those sentiments track with a recent national survey done by Savings.com, that shows more than 80 percent of voters nationwide factor in politics when they choose where to spend.

The hope for the score card, according to Carrk, is that it’s used by employees, consumers, or investors can make pro-democracy choices when it comes to where they work, shop and put their money.

“We’re seeing increasingly now that, you know, consumers want to spend money in a company that shares their values. Employees want to work at companies that share their values, and shareholders want to invest in companies that share their values,” Carrk said.

Local 4 did reach out to all of the companies we mentioned in this story and only got a response from ford saying the company makes election day a holiday and the employee political action committee makes bipartisan contributions on business issues adding, “Ford’s position is clear: we believe that equitable access to voting rights for all people is the bedrock of a democratic society.”

Carrk also said the scores weren’t stagnant but would be routinely updated as the Nov. 8 election nears.

Check the full scorecards here.


About the Author:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.