More Than 150 Business Leaders Back Campaign To End Death Penalty

More than 150 business leaders have pledged their support for a campaign working to eradicate capital punishment around the world.

The Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty campaign was launched by Richard Branson, the billionaire founder of Virgin Group, and the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) earlier this year.

Now, ahead of World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10, more than 150 signatories—including Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Arianna Huffington—are backing the campaign aiming to help drive abolition campaigns over the line.

The campaign's declaration decries the death penalty as inhumane, discriminatory, prone to error and ineffective as a deterrent. It notes that half of U.S. states and more than 170 U.N. member states have abolished the death penalty or stopped carrying out death sentences, underscoring a global trend towards abolition.

"Where the death penalty still exists, we urge government leaders to legally commute death sentences, to impose moratoria on executions and to support legislative or ballot initiatives to end capital punishment for good," it says.

"We commit to using our voices and our reach as business leaders to support ending the death penalty everywhere, beginning with signing this declaration."

It's the first time so many leaders from the business community have united in a push to end the death penalty, Celia Ouellette, the CEO of the RBIJ, told Newsweek.

It comes at a time when support for ending capital punishment in the U.S. has never been higher, she said, pointing to Virginia's recent abolition of the death penalty and President Joe Biden's moratorium on federal executions.

"I do think that businesses are increasingly going to put pressure on President Biden to go beyond a moratorium and actually create some lasting change for the death penalty at the federal level," Ouellette added.

Sir Richard Branson speaks at press conference
Sir Richard Branson speaks after he flew into space aboard a Virgin Galactic vessel at Spaceport America, near Truth and Consequences, New Mexico on July 11, 2021. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Ouellette also said the campaign's backers will be deployed at crucial points in specific abolition campaigns to support reforms and inspire action in collaboration with activists on the ground. She said she hopes the campaign has a direct impact on states like Utah and Ohio, where efforts to abolition the death penalty are underway.

"We're trying to marshal as much energy and leverage from people who are in positions to have influence," Jason Flom, the CEO of Lava Media, told Newsweek.

"To use their voices and their platform to force recalcitrant legislators, decision makers, to do what they should by now know is the right thing, which is abolish the death penalty."

The growing support for the campaign shows that business leaders "increasingly recognize they must be a force for the greater good of society," Branson said.

"By speaking out against the death penalty, they take a stand against one of the most egregious injustices of our time. The voice of business will be critical to end the death penalty once and for all."

Ouellette added: "Lawmakers and decision makers should be paying attention—business leaders are wading into the fray and demanding an end to capital punishment. There's a new incentive for ending the death penalty: abolition is good for business."

To find out more about the campaign, visit www.BusinessAgainstDeathPenalty.org.

The list of signatories:

RICHARD BRANSON Founder, Virgin Group

ADEEL SAEED CEO, Adeel Saeed

ALAN JOPE CEO, Unilever

ALESSANDRO BOGLIOLO Former CEO, Tiffany & Co.

ALEX LOVE Founder and CEO, Alex Love Consulting, LLC

ALI NIAZ Co-Founder, BPureSounds

ALICE DYSON COO, ONE MEDIA IP LTD

ALLAN W MOSKOWITZ CEO, Transformative Wealth Management, LLC

ALPA PATEL Founder and CEO, 9th House

AMANDA PACQUETTE Director, Business2Technology

AMIT AMIN Partner, Amit & Naroop

ANDERS HOLCH POVLSEN CEO, BESTSELLER

ANDRÉ HOFFMAN

ANDREW N. LIVERIS Former Chairman and CEO, Dow Chemical | Founder, Liveris Academy for Leadership and Innovation

ANNE WOJCICKI Co-Founder and CEO, 23andMe, Inc.

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON Founder and CEO, Thrive Global | Co-founder, The Huffington Post

ATITI SOSIMI CEO, Eyato London

BEN COHEN Co-founder, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

BERT JACOBS CEO, LIFE IS GOOD

BRAD S. KARP Chairman, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison

BRITTANY DAMICO Senior Business Development Manager, Change Finance

CASEY J. MULLIGAN Owner, Mulligan & Mulligan PLLC

CATHERINE KIMMEL Co-CEO, The Artemis Agency

CHRIS DAW QC Lawyer, Broadcaster and Author of Justice on Trial

CHRISTINA BROOKS Founder and CEO, Ruebik

CHRISTOPHER COX Associate Director, Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment

CHRIS DUTTON Founder, The CEO Magazine

DAN MEYER President and CEO, Nehemiah Manufacturing

DANIEL DART CEO, Dart Capital & Co.

DAVID BRONNER CEO, Dr.Bronner's

DAVID W. CRANE CEO, Climate Real Impact Solutions | Former CEO and President, NRG

DAVID PACQUETTE CEO, Business2Technology

DAVE PHILLIPS

DORRIT LOWSEN President and COO, Change Finance

Dr. MO IBRAHIM Founder, Mobile Systems International | Founder, Celtel | Founding Chairman, Satya Capital Limited | Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation

DR. PHILIP TEE Founder and CEO, Moogsoft Inc

ED FLETCHER Co-Managing Director, Shape History

ELISSA SHUCK President and CEO, ES-STRATEGIC, LLC

ELIZABETH CHAMBERS Operating Partner, Searchlight Capital

ELLIE KANNER CEO, Forever Sunny Productions | Just To Be Clear Productions | The Game Plan Game LLC

EVE WILDRICK Founder and President, Executive Interiors Inc.

FELIX PFREUNDTNER Owner, Xilev UG

FLOYD ALBEE CEO, Prevalent Projects

FRANCOIS-HENRI PINAULT

GARETH PARKER CEO, Raphael Rowe Foundation

GEORGE TURNER Co-Founder and CEO, Carneys Community

GINA LYNELL SMITH Founder, BizDesign.digital

GORI YAHAYA Founder and CEO, UpSkill Digital

GUILHERME LEAL Co-founder and Co-chair Natura & Co | Co-founder Instituto Ethos

HELENE GAYLE, MD, MPH President and CEO, The Chicago Community Trust | Former President & CEO CARE USA

HUBERT JOLY Former Chairman and CEO, Best Buy | Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School

HUGH LENON Private Equity and Prison Charity Chairman

IQRA SHAIKH Founder and CEO, Tutoring in Teams

ISABELLE KOCHER

JACK D'AURORA Partner, The Behal Law Group LLC

JAMES FELLOWES Founder, The Bridge of Hope (Inclusive Talent Portal)

JARED SMITH Co-founder, Qualtrics

JASON FLOM CEO, Lava Media

JATIN MAHINDRA Founder, Jatin Mahindra

JAUME MIQUEL NAUDI Chairman and CEO, Tendam Global Fashion Retail

JAVIER GARCIA SAZ CEO and Founder, AnunciaWebs

JEAN OELWANG President and Founding CEO Virgin Unite | Former Co-CEO Virgin Mobile Australia

JEFFREY SCALES Managing Principal, JSA Sustainable Wealth Management

JERRY GREENFIELD Co-founder, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

JOANNA REES Managing Partner, West Ventures

JOHN C. HARRINGTON President and CEO, Harrington Investments, Inc.

JOHN KAY CEO, Realize Strategies

JOHN O'FARRELL

JOHN REPLOGLE Founding Partner, One Better Ventures | Former CEO, Seventh Generation Inc

JOHN ROST Founder and CEO, Ace Oasis Ltd

JOHN RUSH Founder and CEO, CleanTurn | 180 Demo | Third Way Café

JOHNNY WEBB CEO, HiddenLight Productions

JON WRIGHT Co-Founder, Innocent Drinks

JONATHAN OUELLETTE Co-Founder and Creative Director, KILL 2 BIRDS

JOE DELOSS Founder, Hot Chicken Takeover

JOSH ZINNER CEO, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

JULIA ALBEE CFO, Prevalent Projects

JULIO SALINAS LOMBARD Founder and CEO, Salinas Consultores

KATIE DAVIES U.S. Editor, The Independent

KETZ HARIA Director, Dey, King, Haria

KRISTINA TOUZENIS Managing Partner, BST Impact

KRIZ TAN Co-Owner and Director, Alphavertex Communications Pte Ltd

KYLER CARTER Professor of Development Disabilities

L. WILLIAMSON COO, CAA Family Office

LAUREN McCANN Founder and CEO, Calliope Advisors

LOGAN MARTIN President, Skyline Strategies, LLC

LUCKY XAZI Founder, Smart LUX Marketing

MAC BARTINE CEO, SmartRIA

MAMIE KANFER STEWART Founder, Meeteor

MARC BENIOFF Chairman and CEO, Salesforce

MARCUS BULLOCK CEO, Flikshop

MARISA TENDERO Non-Executive Chairwoman, NOABRANDS

MARK HAMADE Co-Founder, CanEth

MARTHA LANE FOX Chair, WeTransfer | Director, Twitter | Director, Chanel | Chancellor, Open University

MARY-CLAIRE MULLIGAN Partner and Director, Trial Litigation

MATTHEW STEPKA Managing Partner, Machina Ventures

MATS GRANRYD

MELISSA FRIESENBOURG Owner, Balanced Spirit Pilates

MERCK MERCURIADIS Founder and CEO, Hipgnosis Songs Fund

MICHAEL CONN Founder, Bigger Than Us

MICHAEL KRAMER Managing Partner, Natural Investments

MICHELLE CIROCCO Chief Impact Officer and Executive Director, Televerde | Televerde Foundation

MIKE NOVOGRATZ Founder and CEO, Galaxy Digital

MILES DALLY CEO, RCL FOODS

MO CHOUMIL CEO, Safi Virtual

MORDECHAI GABAI Head of Studio, Schizotypy Game Development Ltd

NICK McKEOWN

NICOLAS DEBRAY President, Americas, The Body Shop

NICOLAS GIROTTO

NICOLAS PATRICK Global Head of Responsible Business, DLA Piper

OSCAR WESTRA VAN HOLTHE Founder, Teamcoach Zuidas

PAUL GRAHAM Founder, Y Combinator

PAUL J. FRIBOURG

PAUL POLMAN Co-founder and Chair, IMAGINE | Former CEO, Unilever

PEDRO HERNANDES Founder, HBFS

PEDRO PARENTE Chairman and Former CEO, BRF | Founding Partner, EB Capital | Former CEO, Petrobras

PIERRE DUBUC Co-Founder and CEO, OpenClassrooms

RAPHAEL ROWE Founder, Raphael Rowe Foundation

RICCARDO BELLINI President and CEO, Chloe

RIZVAN RAJA Founder and CEO, Rizuma Ltd

ROBERT F. SMITH Founder, Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners

RON CONWAY Founder, SV Angel

RYAN BALL Director, Ryan Ball Photography

SALLY JEWELL Former CEO, REI

SANDRO SALSANO Chairman, Salsano Family Office | President, Salsano Group

SANJAY AGGARWAL Founder and CEO, IPS

SATISH AGGARWAL Founder, S&J Leisure Group

SARA PRICE Founder, Actually

SARAH ADOLPHSON Co-CEO, The Artemis Agency

SARAH BEST CEO, Sarah Best Strategy

SARAI JACOB-WHELAN

SCOTT BUDNICK CEO, One Community | Founder, The Anti-Recidivism Coalition

SHENALY AMIN Director, Iconik Ltd

SHERYL SANDBERG COO, Facebook | Founder, LeanIn.org

SITAL PUNJA Founder, Threads-London

SONIA KOWAL President, Zevin Asset Management

STEFANIE REINHOLD Founder, HorseHaus LLC

STEPHANIE MELODIA CEO, Bloom Consulting Ltd

STEPHEN LUCKMAN Partner, Sheridans

STEVE BENNETT Co-Founder, Health Results

STRIVE MASIYIWA Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Group

SUSAN OZAWA PEREZ Senior Portfolio Manager, Impact Investors

SUSAN WHITMORE Founder and CEO, Grief Haven

SVEIN TORE HOLSETHER President and CEO, Yara International

SYLVIA COLEMAN Co-Founder and Principal, BPureSounds

TERESA HENNING Director, Moneymasternow

TOM LYTTON-DICKIE Founder and CEO, Meaningful Business

TONY FERNANDES Group Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia Group | Chairman and Founder, Tune Group

VANESSA BAKEWELL Global Client Partner, Facebook

WERNER BAUMANN CEO, Bayer

WOUTER MURRAT Founder, Owner & CEO, MEPILAN VOF

YINKA SONUBI CEO, TJR&M