A Corporate American Index as Alternative to ESG Scores

The recent dust-up over Twitter’s on-again, off-again, on-again showing of the Daily Wire’s “What is a Woman” documentary did more than simply illustrate how deep the remaining problems are at Twitter, even with Elon Musk. We already knew that. 

More important is what it revealed about the pervasiveness of the woke mind virus infecting every downtown glass box, ivory tower, state and federal government building and the almost entirety of corporate America—fueled every year, as they are, by greater waves of propagandized woke zombies gushing out of universities. 

Supposed victories with Bud Light, Target, and (sort of) the Los Angeles Dodgers are barely skirmishes in a war that needs to be waged on every front, all the time. Barely a blip. This can no longer be a series of tactical moves, but requires a broad offensive along the entire front because that is the all encompassing direction from which the attacks have been coming for generations. 

So at the spigot end, Florida again is showing the way, at least in first steps with universities, by stopping public colleges from funding diversity, equity and inclusion for students, faculty or staff. The new law also bans teaching “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression, and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political, and economic inequities.” 

The media always paints this as Governor Ron DeSantis’ “war on woke.” They mean that as a marginalizing pejorative directed at minimizing the import of the actions. But in their usual cluelessness, they are actually describing exactly what needs to be happening, as more Americans awaken from a sleep of superficially pleasant dreams to the reality of a waking nightmare erupting all around them—from their local schools, to the stores they shop in, to their places of business. 

But even if the fight is fully engaged at universities—and it only will be in some red states—that still leaves hundreds of thousands of woke zombies already inhabiting the corporate world, and importantly, the finance world. They aren’t going away, but they can be, at least partially, neutered. 

Corporations like Target, Kate Spade, Nike, Bud Light, but also mid and even smaller companies, are willing to endure short-term losses in obedience to the woke hive because they are virtually blackmailed by Corporate Equality Index scores. 

The Corporate Equality Index, published by the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ political lobbying group in the world, rates American businesses on their preferential treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors. Not surprisingly, it is totally politicized. CEI President Kelley Robinson previously worked for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Fifteen of the top 20 Fortune 500 companies received the highest score possible from CEI and 840 U.S. companies hit high CEI scores, according to the Human Rights Campaign. 

Further, CEI is an essential component of the social justice part of so-called Environment, Social Justice and Governance (ESG) ratings. 

Major banks and finance institutions use the ESG ratings and the component CEI scores to determine who they will do business with. And often this plays out in corporations’ revolving lines of credit. Most Americans who do not run a company fail to realize how important a line of credit is to a corporation in covering the gap between payables and receivables. Corporations incur most expenses on a product or service before they are paid for, creating a cash-flow gap. So banks set up lines of credit from which the corporation can borrow money short term against their receivables. 

When J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and most others use the ESG and CEI scores, they have a choke point over corporations. Essentially, corporations are required to follow woke rules or they may lose their lines of credit. And that can be devastating for many businesses, and at the least embarrassing for others. Further, the world’s largest investors, such as Blackrock, Vanguard, and State Street, are also some of the largest shareholders in most major corporations, and they too use the ESG index as leverage on companies. 

How powerful are these scores in the minds of corporate executives? After Anheuser-Busch lost its perfect CEI score following the Dylan Mulvaney disaster and its attempts to recover branding, the company still felt obliged to pledge $200,000 to support “LGBTQ+ business owners of color.” And not quietly. They pushed it out in a press release. 

This stranglehold can be directly countered. And frankly, must be. There needs to be a Corporate American Index score that ranks companies essentially opposite of the CEI score. It should rank corporations on a series of topics important to traditional Americans, such as but certainly not limited to: 

  •     Commitment to families and protecting children
  •     Commitment to being religion-friendly
  •     Commitment to not discriminate based on race or gender (which is already illegal)
  •     Commitment to not adopt DEI
  •     Commitment to fiduciary responsibility for shareholders 

Because nothing in this fight to regain America will happen overnight, it will take years to mount an effective index and campaign of acceptance. After 20 years, 379 of the Fortune 500 companies participate in the CEI. They’ve been on the long march. 

But pushback works. When Florida and Texas among other states yanked their investment funds from Vanguard and Blackrock—an awful lot of money—the financial giants began backing off their aggressive ESG stances with companies. The states made a financial case: ESG funds underperform because the woke-investing criteria is irrelevant or even damaging to market forces that create profits. And investors in those major financial companies, in the end and beyond the platitudes, want to make money. 

So a Corporate American Index that provides a cultural cover for companies to step back from the cliff, and one that can prove to be more profitable for investors, is a clear and necessary front to open against the hive.

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About Rod Thomson

Rod Thomson is a former daily newspaper reporter and columnist, former Salem radio host and ABC TV commentator, and current Founder of The Thomson Group, a Florida-based political consulting firm. He has eight children and seven grandchildren and a rapacious hunger to fight for America for them. Follow him on Twitter at @Rod_Thomson or Truth Social at @rodthomson. Email him at rod@thomsonpr.com.

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