March 22

Viewpoint: Why Has “ESG” Become “Woke?” – Environmentalism Can Be Nonpartisan

By Saleem H. Ali

The decision of the Texas Schools investment fund to withdraw more than $8 billion worth of investments from the multinational investment company Blackrock can be traced back to a 2022 state “anti-woke” law against “ESG Investment.” Until a few years ago, this acronym was an esoteric label. It has now become a rallying cry for many Republicans who have conflated “Environment, Social and Governance” with a Liberal “Awakening” – hence “Woke” movement. In particular, the marginalization of fossil fuel companies by investment houses like Blackrock has been at the heart of this strident move against “ESG.”

During the time when the late Jack Welch was the CEO of General Electric more than 25 years ago, I worked as a Technical Leadership Program associate at the company. In those days the acronyms of choice in this domain were “Environmental, Health and Safety” (EHS) or Safety Health and Environment (SHE). Much of the EHS department’s work was confined to compliance with specific laws on environmental and occupational health performance. This was largely handled through audits and monitoring of complaints and the occasional lawsuits against the company. While there was occasional rumbling of discontent among the profit-watchers about the expense of compliance, in general this was not a politically charged matter.

Photo courtesy of Kristian Niemi.

Source: Forbes (link opens in a new window)

Environment, Investing
climate change, ESG