How Big Business Got ‘Woke’
The Left has made a concerted effort to change the culture of American companies.
These days, we’re bombarded by political messages wherever we go.
Here’s a scenario that’s becoming commonplace: When you pick up morning coffee, the baristas are wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts. You arrive at the office to find the boss has brought in a special “antiracism” speaker during lunch. And on the drive home your favorite radio station plays a message announcing the station’s commitment to environmental and racial justice.
There’s one question everyone seems to be asking: How did this happen? Well, serious political movements take time, effort, and persistence, and American businesses took decades to become “woke” thanks to the tireless work of leftist activists.
Stephen Soukup, author of the new book The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business, argues, “These corporations are part of a movement that has been going on in the West and in this country in particular for the last roughly 100 years to move the culture very consistently and very aggressively to the left in order to more or less make ready the path for the revolution.”
Unfortunately, corporate heads sometimes don’t realize the revolution will force every decision they make to go through the approval of the woke mafia. Companies will be handcuffed by ideology, and they’ll lose customers.
Soukup describes what can be called ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance), which “seeks to change companies, to change their boards of directors, to change their management, to change their bylaws in order to force them to comply with certain political beliefs.” Unfortunately, he says, “ESG has become a very pernicious and driving force in American business.”
Tellingly, those seeking to blackmail American companies into political submission have no issues when China clamps down on political dissidents or ignores criticism of its rampant violation of human rights. Apple doesn’t blink an eye when China asks it to shut off apps to keep citizens from organizing a protest in Beijing. And Disney doesn’t blanch when thanking the very ChiComs who are committing genocide.
In fact, too many businesses in America embrace the Chinese Model here at home. In recent years, some companies have threatened to take their business out of states that pass laws unacceptable to their new ideology-driven corporate culture. (Georgia, Hollywood, and abortion come to mind.) In China, corporations must adhere to an approved political ideology.
But capitalism isn’t supposed to work this way in America.
The relationship between business and consumers should rest on an exchange of supply and demand that’s free from politics. Customers have always been free to shop or invest elsewhere if they believe a particular company doesn’t represent their values.
But the current shakedown of American companies is only the beginning. Self-proclaimed “equity” scholars Erin Dowell and Marlette Jackson wrote in Harvard Business Review last year that companies need to take the next step by changing the culture and structure of entire organizations. Simply “‘woke-washing’ your company,” they insist, “won’t cut it.” They lay out a strategy for implementing wokeness that includes transparency, justification, compliance, and enforcement. And it must run top to bottom: “Fostering organizational justice will require a deep institutional commitment at the industrial, executive, and individual level.”
In other words, they want power.
Think about it. In less than 10 years, even Chick-fil-A transformed from a company supporting traditional marriage and the Salvation Army into one that donates to leftist causes while declining to donate to Christian charities. Companies of all sizes now feel pressured to stamp their culture-warrior-approved political values on restaurant menus, storefront windows, and websites. They hand over millions of dollars to the SJW mafia, but it’s never enough.
Unlike these fringe groups effectively holding guns to the heads of America’s companies, the unwoke masses just keep to themselves and hope it’ll all go away. “I don’t expect or want corporate America to embrace conservative causes,” Dave Seminara writes at The Wall Street Journal. “The March for Life shouldn’t be brought to you by New Balance. Unlike liberals, most conservatives don’t try to bully and boycott companies that cross us.”
But maybe that’s the problem.
Maybe it’s time we start fighting back. Perhaps that’s the only way to win a culture war being waged to politicize our society and turn Main Street businesses into purveyors of the Left’s radical, dangerous agenda.
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