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Guide to politicized capitalism
By Ben Weingarten, RealClearInvestigations
October 20, 2022
American capitalism has undergone a dramatic transformation: corporations across the economy are getting into politics, largely in a progressive direction. Although corporations have long backed candidates and causes in pursuit of policies that benefit their bottom lines, in recent years corporate American political activism has extended well beyond issues directly related to profitability. They did so in line with the influential 2019 Business Roundtable’s redefinition of a corporation’s purpose from maximizing shareholder value to a much broader social mission that includes environmental sustainability, demographic diversity and “dignity and respect”.
Some have called it a “wake-up call”. It has manifested itself in particular in companies’ adherence to “environmental, social and governance” (ESG) policies. Survey shows approximately 82% of large U.S. companies dedicate space in regulatory filings to demonstrate good ESG faith, such as implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives and reducing their carbon footprint. Today, every Fortune 100 company endorses DEI. The world’s largest and most powerful banks and other financial services companies are allied in their desire to do their part to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions – and have leveraged their market power to incentivize businesses of the global economy to do the same. The companies have also taken public stances on burning issues ranging from guns and abortion to immigration, voting rights and criminal justice.
The triumph of “wokeism” over capital has been supercharged by the militant racial fervor that followed the death of George Floyd. It recently rose again as companies reacted to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade with policies to support employees seeking an abortion.
A smaller coterie of companies spoke out for more traditional and conservative values, or at a minimum called for neutrality on political issues. A backlash is also brewing among politicians and leaders in the red state, particularly over the earmarking of public pension funds for ESG concerns.
Commerce, in short, has become an arena of ideological battle outside the electoral sphere on a scale and intensity never seen in this country. Its societal impact is substantial: given the growing political orientation of corporations, almost every dollar that Americans save, spend and invest can increasingly be seen as a de facto political contribution to one or more causes with which many do not agree. may have no affinity. . The workplace can be considered as an in-kind contribution.
With this in mind, RealClearInvestigations has brought together an array of resources spanning the political spectrum for readers to judge how corporations influence society from outside the voting booth and are influenced themselves.