(Maximusnd/iStock/Getty Images) Progressive activists with ideas unlikely to prevail at the ballot box are directing their efforts at big-business boardrooms.
We may finally be seeing a turning point in the world of “sustainable” and “responsible” investing. For the past two decades, those labels have been informed by environmental, social, and governance (ESG) theory — a view of corporate conduct driven by left-wing political goals. Recently, however, a collection of property-rights advocates, religious investors, and concerned shareholders have begun to push back against the assumption that only the values of United Nations bureaucrats and World Economic Forum grandees should be allowed to guide corporate decisions.
There is a growing awareness among conservatives that the effort to make corporations socially responsible has been a Trojan horse for an array of policy goals that can only be advanced via institutions that eschew transparency and accountability in favor of “expert” guidance. Whether it’s issues such as climate-change-disclosure mandates or gender- and racial-diversity requirements for corporate boards, progressive activists with ideas unlikely to prevail at the ballot box have long since left the halls of Congress and directed their efforts at big-business boardrooms.
The counteroffensive, however, is heating up. Last month in Lynchburg, Va., 300 Christian CEOs convened for a three-day event called the “Networking the Nations Summit,” hosted by former member of Congress and current Liberty University business-school dean Dave Brat. Speakers included executives with conservative credentials like Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue and Hobby Lobby president Steve Green; prominent writers and speakers like economist George Gilder and executive coach John Maxwell; and politically active businesspeople like former Hardee’s boss and Trump Department of Labor nominee Andy Puzder and beef baron and Nebraska politico Charles Herbster.
The prevailing theme was that Christian executives and leaders are just as committed to creating “values-driven” workplaces as are the leaders of any diversity-and-sensitivity training seminar. The difference, of course, is what those animating values look like. Many of the executives who were present in Lynchburg represent smaller companies that are family-run and privately held, making it easier for them to lead with their
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