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BlackRock chief executive Larry Fink said that being “woke” has no place in his business.
In his 2022 Letter to CEOs, Fink instead lauded “capitalism” as the driver of relationships between stakeholders:
When my partners and I founded BlackRock as a startup 34 years ago, I had no experience running a company. Over the past three decades, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with countless CEOs and to learn what distinguishes truly great companies. Time and again, what they all share is that they have a clear sense of purpose; consistent values; and, crucially, they recognize the importance of engaging with and delivering for their key stakeholders. This is the foundation of stakeholder capitalism.
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. This is the power of capitalism.
Though Fink’s admonition appears to be strong, Fox Business reporter Megan Henney notes that BlackRock has been accused of “woke posturing” as it diverts attention away from investments in China.
“BlackRock is the first foreign-owned, asset management company that has received approval from Chinese President Xi Jinping to start a mutual fund business in the country,” she wrote. “Fink has said China will be one of the ‘biggest opportunities’ for the investment giant over the long term, but has acknowledged the complicated relationship between Beijing and the U.S.”
Beyond BlackRock, leading American companies frequently engage in social activism.
A 2021 analysis from The Daily Wire found that Fortune 100 companies allocated more than $37 billion for “racial equity” initiatives following the death of George Floyd. For example, Alphabet — Google’s parent company — added to subsidiary YouTube’s $100 million equity fund with $175 million in new grants. The company is working to improve “Black+” representation at senior levels by 30% over the next few years.
However, one survey from The Brunswick Group found that business leaders are “out of step” with the public on speaking about social issues. While only 36% of voters “agree unequivocally that companies should speak out on social issues,” 63% of executives believe the same.
Although The Brunswick Group was not surprised that “Trump voters are less open to companies speaking out on social issues than Biden voters,” it found that “even Biden voters think corporate executives need to weigh in less.”
Indeed, after a sweeping victory in Virginia and a strong race in New Jersey, the Republican Party anticipates an influx of donations from corporations.
“A host of Republican lobbyists say that Tuesday’s elections in Virginia and New Jersey have ignited interest from their corporate clients on making inroads with GOP officials on the Hill,” Politico reported. “They suspect that cash will soon start flowing from corporate PACs to their party’s lawmakers too.”