American investors — by an overwhelming margin — want companies they invest in to stop preaching and pursue profits, and they want no part of the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) movement, an exclusive Daily Wire/Echelon Insights poll reveals.
Companies have increasingly been pushing woke causes onto their consumers, but the poll reveals they do so at their own peril. The poll of over 1,000 investors, conducted last week by Echelon on behalf of The Daily Wire, showed that Americans want companies they invest in to seek profits instead of promoting political agendas outside of companies’ missions. While 29% of respondents agreed it is a “good thing” for companies to leverage their financial power for political or social means supported by executives, 58% — twice as many — said it is a “bad thing.”
“The data are clear: everyday investors want companies to focus on creating shareholder value by delivering excellent products and services to their customers, not on advancing social or political agendas,” said entrepreneur and former pharmaceutical executive Vivek Ramaswamy.
The poll puts hard data behind the backlash already seen at companies like Disney, where an executive boasted of the firm’s “not-at-all-secret gay agenda,” State Farm Insurance, which reversed a plan to donate children’s books promoting transgenderism to schools, and Netflix, which recently told woke employees to look for jobs elsewhere if they object to diverse opinions.
Ramaswamy, who recently launched an asset management firm meant to compete with BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street with an “excellence capitalism” approach, said the poll bodes ill for the so-called “ESG” investing movement. The movement assigns “scores” to companies based on their adherence to “socially conscious” behaviors. A company may, for instance, emphasize its use of green energy, seek contracts with LGBTQ suppliers, or otherwise arrange its operations such that producing shareholder value is linked to a progressive agenda.
“Depoliticizing corporate America should not be a left wing or right wing issue,” Ramaswamy said. “It has nothing to do with partisan politics. An apolitical private sector is a requirement for an otherwise divided country to be able to come together. It’s a sort of sanctuary away from politics. Once we lose that, it’s the beginning of the end of the American experiment. Large asset managers like BlackRock are largely responsible for it.”
Indeed, the Echelon poll found that most investors recognize ESG as promoting “more liberal positions” than conservative ones. While 50% believe the former and 16% believe the latter, only 21% believe that ESG investing is neutral.
When choosing their own assets, most investors prefer to focus on profits instead of ESG — and most believe that other investors should have the same opportunity.
Asset managers like BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street — which collectively manage over $21 trillion — subscribe to ESG. However, 64% of respondents believe that “individual investors whose savings are being invested” should ultimately decide whether retirement funds and pension plans are allocated according to ESG criteria. A mere 20% believe that “Wall Street asset managers” should make that call.
An even stronger margin of respondents — 66% versus 20% — supported the right of individual investors to opt out of ESG-style investments. By a 56% to 28% margin, investors also supported states’ decisions to pull pension funds from investments not solely focused on the strongest possible financial returns.
When asked to discern the motives of companies that take stances on political or social issues, 56% of investors said the firms are merely “trying to appease their critics” and 34% said the firms genuinely “believe it’s the right thing.” When companies do take stances on issues, 36% of investors said the stances are “too liberal,” while 17% said they are “too conservative.”
Beyond everyday investors, many of America’s most prominent business leaders are increasingly wary of ESG and other forms of socially conscious investing. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, for instance, said in March that “ESG rules have been twisted into insanity.”