Last year, I wrote a series of columns about how woke ideology is tearing our country apart.
It has made a mockery of our national borders, with migrants spilling across by the millions.
It has decriminalized property crimes, which has led to widespread looting, higher consumer prices and store closures.
It has led to the early release of violent criminals, endangering law-abiding citizens.
It has encouraged women and minorities to view themselves as helpless victims of a sexist and racist society.
And it has added to the toxic tone of our national politics, with a chilling effect on free speech.
Sixty-two percent of Americans say they are unwilling to speak their political views publicly.
Sadly, many businesses are complicit in this, promoting what is now referred to as “woke capitalism.”
Woke capitalism has nothing to do with hiring and promoting the most capable individuals, turning customers into raving fans, or maximizing shareholder value.
It’s about promoting a far-left social agenda.
Not everyone shares or benefits from that agenda, however. And therein lies the first problem.
Woke capitalism is inherently divisive.
For example, instead of seeing each employee or job candidate as a unique individual with specific talents, skills and shortcomings, it sorts them into groups based on race, gender or sexual orientation.
This shouldn’t need to be said but I’ll say it anyway: No one is less qualified for a job because of their race, gender or orientation.
However, the converse is also true.
No one is more qualified for a job because of their race, gender or orientation.
So when a company prominently announces a change in its hiring and advancement policies to increase its “diversity scores,” it is not about fair treatment or equal treatment.
It’s about preferential treatment.
That is bound to create hard feelings in some quarters.
Yet in today’s politically correct workplaces, expressing dissent often leaves employees open to charges of bigotry, ignorance or closed-mindedness.
Rather than fostering unity and inclusion, woke ideology creates frustration and resentment. And that doesn’t promote team cohesion.
Corporations should not be in the business of politics.
Especially radical politics that the majority of employees and customers disagree with.
A national Pew Research Center poll last year found 74% of Americans hostile to racial preferences, including Hispanics (68%), Asians (63%), Blacks (59%), Republicans (87%) and Democrats (62%).
Yes, our nation has a long history of discrimination against women and minorities.
Yet at a time when the situation has never been better – America has never been less racist, sexist or homophobic than it is today – it is often portrayed as though things have never been worse.
The overwhelming majority of Americans want everyone to go as far as their ambition, talent and persistence will take them.
Moreover, woke ideology runs counter to everything The Oxford Club stands for.
Our goal – our very brand – is personal empowerment.
Wokeism, by contrast, promotes a narrative of victimhood, hurting the very individuals it claims to help.
It is disempowering to be told you can’t or won’t succeed because you’re a woman. Or you’re gay. Or you’re a person of color.
Woke ideology doesn’t make anyone’s life better. But it succeeds wonderfully at making people bitter and angry.
It has also infected Wall Street, with many businesses more interested in meeting environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria than delivering high returns to investors.
The objective of businesspeople and money managers should not be to remake the world but to maximize returns for shareholders.
Woke executives do a poor job of both.
Fund managers with a strong ESG tilt, for example, have underweighted or entirely avoided the fossil fuel industry.
That was a particularly boneheaded move last year. While the S&P 500 fell 19% in 2022, the S&P 500 energy sector soared 59%.
ESG funds were massive underperformers.
It is a fantasy to believe that the U.S. will reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
As Canadian author Vaclav Smil points out in How the World Really Works…
We are a fossil-fueled civilization whose technical and scientific advances, quality of life, and prosperity rest on the combustion of huge quantities of fossil carbon. Complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2050 is now conceivable only at the cost of unthinkable global economic retreat.
Yet woke fund managers use your money to push for policies that undermine the oil and gas industry – an industry that reduces poverty, raises living standards and literally fuels our growth – and end up generating subpar results for their beneficiaries in the process.
In short, woke capitalism makes businesses less productive, less harmonious and less profitable.
In my next column, in fact, I’ll show how it has cost some well-known public companies – and their shareholders – literally billions of dollars.