The threat of stakeholder capitalism has moved well-beyond hypothetical and while a growing number of companies are capitulating to pressure or willfully embracing environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards, one investor is using Disney and Apple to prove that no brand can sustain the damage of “woke capitalism.”
As many may have learned for the first time watching the onset of billionaire Elon Musk’s attempt at acquiring social media company Twitter, publicly traded companies have a responsibility to look out for the financial best interest of their shareholders. After co-founding Strive Asset Management earlier this year, Vivek Ramaswamy led his investment firm to acquire stakes in Apple and Disney, and now he is demanding they drop their woke agendas and start fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities, according to the New York Post.
This week, the investor and author of the book “Woke, Inc.” penned letters to the CEOs of the aforementioned companies addressing a decline in approval from embracing the positions of “social activists. To Disney CEO Bob Chapek he wrote in part, “Disney must make clear that it will no longer take political stances on issues unrelated to its core business operations. The company must make clear that it will hold firm to this promise, and that it will not waver no matter how important a particular social cause is to Disney’s employees or its followers on Twitter.”
Highlighting a drop from 77 percent to 33 percent approval as denoted by an NBC News poll since earlier in the year resulting from the “House of Mouse” choosing the progressive side of the culture war in promoting the left’s narrative reacting and referring to the Florida Parental Rights in Education Act as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, Ramaswamy called the abysmal numbers an “unprecedented collapse following Disney’s public embrace of controversial political positions in deference to social activists.”
Though Disney’s stocks have climbed some since their 52 week low at $90.23, they are still sitting at a 40 percent loss since their 52 week high at 182.20 as reported by Insider. A spokesperson for Disney offered little by way of response save to issue a statement expressing, “We regularly receive input from our shareholders, who hold a wide variety of viewpoints, and we listen to their perspectives.”
Ramaswamy offered equal demands to Apple in a letter sent to their CEO Tim Cook and Chairman Arthur Levinson specifically calling out a planned “racial equity audit.”
In a tweet posted before the issuance of his letter to the tech company, the investor wrote, “Hiring should be based on merit. Not race, sex, or politics. More to say on that this week. Buckle up, corporate America.”
Hiring should be based on merit. Not race, sex, or politics.
More to say on that this week. Buckle up, corporate America.
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) September 19, 2022
As he stated in the letter, “We are concerned that over the last year, Apple has faced severe pressure from its large institutional ‘shareholders’ — including BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager — to adopt value-destroying human resources policies that jeopardize Apple’s ability to hire top talent in the future.”
BlackRock, whose influence is peppered throughout President Joe Biden’s administration, has defended its policies with CEO Larry Fink writing in a letter to CEOs last year, “Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke.’ It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper.”
Ramaswamy’s intentions should the companies fail to heed his concerns were not expressly detailed.
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