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Money Matters

July 1, 2023 by Scott Crosby

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Investors Column

Certain large investment firms are using their leverage to force companies to enact policies that are “woke”-oriented and “ESG”-oriented.  “ESG” stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance.

S599-1.jpgWoke initially meant being aware of racial prejudice and discrimination.  But it has been expanded to include sexism, identity politics (“politics based on a particular identity, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social background, social class”, according to Wikipedia, vs. viewing each individual as an independent, responsible being living in freedom).  

Woke has also been expanded to include slavery reparations, which is ironic, given that historically Moslem slavery of others (of all races) is the world leader in terms of sheer numbers, and that both current-day slavery by Moslems and by Africans of other Africans remains substantially prevalent today – issues which are notably un-championed by Woke proponents, suggesting more mercenary motivations than humanitarian concerns.

ESG is “a business framework for considering environmental issues and social issues in the context of corporate governance,” according to Wikipedia.  It should be no surprise that ESG is decidedly more socialistic in its orientation than the normal, straightforward employer and employee concerns regarding the work environment, safety, pay, personal development, etc., that has developed over time, particularly since World War II.  

ESG was first promulgated by the United Nations.  Note that most countries in the UN are socialist, which is a paternalistic, oppressive, and anti-rights form of government.


As an investor, owning stock in companies espousing Woke and ESG ideologies should be avoided: those companies do not provide a good return on investment.

Recent headlines provide two well-publicized examples:  Anheuser-Busch and Target.  

Anheuser-Busch’s recent transvestite-focused commercial has led to the virtual demise of its Bud Light brand, which had previously been the market leader.  The commercial’s design broke the cardinal rule of all advertising:  know your audience, and focus on its cultivation.  

Target’s recent advertising made the same mistake, and its stock price is half of its all-time high.  

Disney’s stock price has similarly dropped by more than 50% from its high point in 2021.

The fall in price for both Target and Disney came in two waves:  first, as part of the general decline in stock prices during the recession, and more recently, due to recent corporate Woke activism.  In contrast, other stocks have generally seen price growths during that same period.

Regardless of the issues, mixing any political agenda with product advertising is self-destructive.  

When researching stocks for possible purchase, be sure to identify those companies which espouse ESG and Woke involvement.  Stock-pricing histories make it clear that those stocks will at best provide a more limited return on your investment.  

Plenty of stocks are available with better returns, making them better investment choices.

Woke and ESG Mutual Funds

Mutual funds, of course, are more difficult to analyze.

In addition to learning which stocks make up a significant fraction of a mutual fund’s portfolio, certain mutual funds themselves are seeking greater investment in Woke- and ESG-oriented companies.

Mutual funds regularly own billions or even trillions of dollars’ worth of stocks.  They often have seats on a company’s Board of Directors.  They can influence and change a company’s policies and focus to meet the personal goals of the mutual fund’s own directors.

BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, according to a Fox Business article, manage about $20 trillion in capital.  All three are strong advocates of the adoption of Woke and ESG policies by the companies in which they invest.

As an investor, your research unfortunately needs to include whether a stock is held by BlackRock, Vanguard, or State Street in a quantity which gives them undue influence over a potential stock choice you have in mind.  

That same article notes that California’s state pension fund is so large that the state itself can also have undue influence on a company’s operation – as well as that of BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street funds, to further California’s own socialistic political goals.

The article quotes BlackRock’s CEO as saying that companies which BlackRock invests in must force employees’ behavior.

None of these, of course, are acting in your best interest as an investor.

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