This Progressive Ultimatum Is A ‘Gimmick Dressed Up As A Service To Society’

Jared Whitley Contributor
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A movement demonstrates its moral authority with the tactics it uses. Those who can persuade use persuasion; those who can’t threaten violence – or actually use it. Now chasing the values of the Orwellian-sounding “progressive” movement for easy publicity isn’t just a rogue college professor, but investment firm BlackRock, Inc.

With $6.3 trillion of assets under management, BlackRock is a non-state actor wielding power on a scale most of us can’t comprehend. BlackRock recently issued standards on climate risk, executive compensation, and diversity practices to companies seeking access to their investment dollars, as reported by S&P Global.

BlackRock underscored these “priorities” with ominous language more befitting a super-villain than an investment fund.

“While we are patient with companies, our patience is not infinite,” they write, as if it is holding the world hostage with a giant space laser.

On the subject of corporate diversity, BlackRock uses some wonderful double-talk, insisting it will not “tell companies what to do” but then concomitantly avers it will  take “deliberate action” against boards that do not comport to its definition of diversity. If BlackRock does not see what it desires, such boards must deliver “a specific and credible explanation.”

BlackRock’s justification for such practices is that “diverse employees” just need to “see leaders who are not of the dominant culture” or else they–and their companies in turn–will be doomed to failure.

Language like this is supposed to sound empowering, but it’s condescending and more than a little racist. It’s a soft bigotry that demeans minorities’ achievements while reinforcing to others that they can only excel when liberal white people give them a minority-only passing lane.

Oprah Winfrey didn’t need to “see” someone who “looked like” her to become an American success story. Neither did Sundar Pichai to become CEO of Google. Neither did the Asian engineers that YouTube now openly discriminates against.

Like many modern diversity zealots, BlackRock’s limited scope does not include religion as a “a dimension of diversity and as a vital element in a holistic view of employees.” Indeed, this dimension seems to require even more attention, as one study found that corporate diversity efforts actually contribute to religious discrimination in the workplace.

Furthermore, a lack of diversity can lead to “groupthink,” BlackRock notes, which makes sense. But then why does it not pursue efforts to get evangelicals hired by college campuses, mainstream news outlets, and the entertainment industry? Of course it can’t, nor will it.

If BlackRock really wants to reshape the world according to whatever progressive ideals are de rigueur this week, maybe it should start by reshaping BlackRock first.

In its ultimatum, BlackRock wants to set up compensation committees to control executive pay, but its white CEO Laurence Fink makes $25.5 million per year while President Robert Kapito makes $19.6 million.

(I expect a specific and credible explanation for this, and my patience is not infinite.)

BlackRock itself is such a sketchy institution that it has earned the label “the world’s largest shadow bank” – financial intermediaries that function like banks but without that pesky regulation and accountability nonsense. Shadow banks like BlackRock caused the financial crisis by leveraging risky, off-balance-sheet vehicles, which The Economist called “an accounting gimmick dressed up as a service to society.”

So it’s no coincidence that while BlackRock’s ultimatum included liberal media-pleasing buzzwords like “climate change!” and “diversity!”, but somehow the phrase “compliance with financial regulatory bodies” escaped its attention.

It’s one thing for rogue colleges to employ “progressive” tactics, which does little short-term harm to the economy, but it is orders of magnitude worse when an entity as powerful as BlackRock sinks to that level.

Jared Whitley is political veteran with 15 years of experience in media and Washington politics. He has served as press liaison for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and associate director in the White House under George W. Bush. He is also an award-winning writer. 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.