Brian Mark Weber / November 4, 2022

Woke Corporations: How the Mob Did It

It’s long past time to treat the sickness of woke capitalism, which has spread unchecked across corporate America.

There was a time when someone poised to become the CEO of a major company wouldn’t have to worry about expressing her opinions on social or political issues. There was a time.

These days, though, it doesn’t take much to get canceled — or in the case of Jennifer Sey, to lose her bid to become the next CEO of the Levi’s brand. Sey’s unforgivable sin? She spoke out against the injustice of COVID mandates.

“The well-liked liberal executive was pushed out at Levi’s in February 2022, after her vetting for CEO was derailed by social media posts and activism pushing back against school closures and mask policies for children,” reports The Daily Wire.

“Many parents, including myself,” said Sey, “tried for two years to have a national conversation about the damage that would be caused by prolonged school closures. But journalists, education leaders, and public health officials furthered the narrative that anyone challenging school closures was a racist and wanted teachers to die.”

That was too much for Levi’s, which has a history of leftist advocacy such as opposing the Second Amendment. Sey’s appearance on the Laura Ingraham show was the straw that broke the camel’s back, the moment when her colleagues at Levi’s turned against her.

Sey writes in her book, Levi’s Unbuttoned: The Woke Mob Took My Job but Gave Me My Voice, that woke capitalism is “corporate America’s attempt to profit off Millennial and Gen Z activism, often passive keyboard activists. It exploits social-justice politics and transforms it into social-justice consumerism — and ultimately, investor profit.”

The companies themselves couldn’t care less about progressive values. They’re just virtue signaling, riding the woke wave rolling over society.

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and it’s certainly true when it comes to the woke crowd. They’re loud and they’re in your face. It’s no wonder so many companies from mom-and-pop delis to major corporations tailor their products and advertising to a relatively small but obnoxious segment of society. It’s a win-win situation: The activists get attention and power, and the companies make more money. Another winner is the media.

Sey adds: “CEOs and C-suite executives were always rich. But now they’re rich and beloved, and perceived as well-meaning and heroic. In this new Gilded Age, journalists — themselves often politically biased and ethically compromised — have continued to spread the fiction that corporate leaders and entrepreneurs are not just ‘good’ people but near god-like figures. The public eats it up, because it helps to fill the gaping religion-size hole in our increasingly secular culture.”

Some people out there, including some conservatives, think this is all just a fad with no long-term consequences. They should think again because they’re missing the serious threat at the core of woke capitalism.

What we’re seeing “is a top-down anti-democratic movement,” stated Andy Olivastro of The Heritage Foundation last year. “And it’s on the part of some of the biggest and most important names in American business to change the way that business functions, to change the definition of capitalism itself, and to permanently change the relationship between the citizen and the state.”

Progressives aren’t changing our corporations and other institutions from within to merely funnel money to their favorite causes. This is more serious than many folks ever could have imagined, and it’s all about transforming our way of life.

Wokeness is “fundamentally illiberal, undermining centuries-old principles such as the rule of law, equality under the law, freedom of speech and due process of law,” according to the American Institute for Economic Research. “It harms the very communities it purports to help.”

What to do? AIER believes one way to counter corporate wokeism is for states to refuse to work with asset management companies that prioritize ideological investments above the maximization of financial performance. You want to invest in ESG? Fine. Do so in some other state.

It’s one step in the right direction, and it’s going to take more than winning control of Congress to turn this around. If we’re going to prevail over woke capitalism, we’ll need grim resolve, real solutions, and an enduring commitment to restoring the primacy of free enterprise over this ruinous leftist virus.

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