A few years ago, corporate America began flirting with wokeism as a way to endear itself to the far-left progressive crowd and avoid cancelation. Now, it appears the business world has begun a whirlwind romance with the woke zealotry class, and this torrid affair is only growing hotter and heavier. Leaders have recently begun pushing back against this movement, but can they successfully impede the continued rise of woke corporatism in America?
Former Executive Takes Aim at Woke Corporatism
Jennifer Sey, the former chief marketing officer and brand president of Levi Strauss & Co., participated in an interview with EpochTV’s American Thought Leaders broadcast. In the conversation, she recounts her tenure with the company and how it affected her ability to speak out on the issues she considers important.
The problems began when Sey started expressing opinions on the COVID-19 pandemic that did not align with the Democrat-approved narrative. She was a vocal opponent of the public school closures being advanced by the progressive crowd. The former executive came to believe that these restrictions had a deleterious effect on her children and others.
“Nobody was bothering to look at actual data or adhere to the pre-pandemic playbook, which said you never shut schools down for more than a couple of weeks,” Sey argued. “It was from day one that me and my husband, we both said, ‘Hell no, this is wrong. People are going to be harmed.’”
Sey’s public commentary on school closures did not go over well with Levi’s management. In September, she was cautioned that her statements could be seen as speaking on the company’s behalf. They said “there would be reputational harm” to the corporation.
Meanwhile, her colleagues started sending their children back to private schools in person. “I was so angry that these people would dare to say to me while sending their own kids to in-person school: ‘You can’t advocate for poor children to be in school,’” Sey recounted.
The former executive told the interviewer the “pose of wokeness” is “a cloak they wrap themselves in to signal virtue … to hide greed, corruption, keeping all the good stuff for themselves.” Early in 2022, Levi had enough; Sey was informed that her services would no longer be needed.
“You can’t be the CEO because of the things you’ve been saying and doing. Therefore, you can’t sit in your current chair because that is the role that ultimately becomes the CEO, so you need to leave,” Sey recalled being told.
The company offered her $1 million in severance, but she turned it down because it would have required her to sign a nondisclosure agreement. “What the nondisclosure agreement would require is that I never speak about the terms of my ousting. I was not OK with that,” Sey said.
Later in the conversation, Sey discussed the movement to promote transgender ideology among children, explaining that she has no problem with adults undertaking these procedures. However, she stressed that questioning the propriety of “gender-affirming care” being given to children is also an unpardonable sin in the woke culture becoming more pervasive in the corporate environment.
“[Wokeism] has become religious in nature. Woke capitalism is really just an attempt to profit off of this ideology and the passion behind this ideology amongst primarily Gen Z and millennial consumers,” she said.
Is Woke Corporatism on the Rise?
Sey’s situation is one of several illustrating the push to wokify corporate America. Indeed, this initiative is not only being push by business leaders, but by the government as well. President Joe Biden is putting into place a rule allowing employers to allocate employees’ 401(k) funds into investments supporting progressive causes like climate change and “diversity.” Without workers’ knowledge, their investments will go towards entities that adhere to the environmental, social, and governance movement.
The Washington Times reported:
“The Labor Department recently approved the rule affecting roughly 150 million workers and $10 trillion in assets covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.
The rule says asset managers and retirement plan administrators should consider environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors when selecting investments.
That would encourage money managers to balance financial returns with investments that support wind and solar energy or have diverse boards of directors.”
Biden’s new rules also do away with a restriction prohibiting employers from designating an ESG fund as a default option for employees enrolled in retirement plans. Republicans have pushed back on this move, arguing that it is just another way to “weaponize corporations to reshape society in ways that Americans would never endorse at the ballot box.”
Additionally, the GOP has gone against the ESG movement at the state level. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have both signed legislation removing billions in investment funds from BlackRock and other financial companies that prioritize woke initiatives over shareholder profits. But in the end, the government can only do so much. If those opposing woke corporatism wish to affect change, they will need to do so in the culture.
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