At Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee, we encourage governmental action—federal or state—that counters the harmful Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda. In short, ESG is a metric system being used by actors in the private sector to bring about ends like
- blacklisting pro-life elected officials,
- discouraging business in states with pro-life laws,
- pressuring businesses to cover hormonal or surgical interventions to look like the opposite sex,
- steering retirement funds to support leftist policies,
- debanking businesses because of their work for religious liberty, and
- funneling resources to the dictatorial Chinese Communist Party.
Those who have advanced this agenda include our federal government, certain state governments, asset managers, banks, proxy advisory firms, and activist investors and shareholders. We are supportive of three model policies that counter ESG.
#1. Backing Responsible State Officials
Legislation like the “State Pension Fiduciary Act” would strengthen the hand of government officers—most likely pension officers—who are pressured by the private sector to consider ESG. The legislation would require a primary focus on pecuniary (financial) interests rather than nonpecuniary interests in managing state pensions. That does not mean ignoring benefits to society. The law would be okay with considerations like benefits to society—as long as the financial return is about equivalent.
Investment management companies own about 75% of shares of publicly traded corporations in America. These companies thus have an oversized impact on retirements and savings. According to a new study by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity study “Putting Politics Over Pensions,” “a majority of the largest firms are routinely violating that fiduciary duty and letting political biases interfere with sound business practices.” Strengthening the fiduciary duty requirement pushes back against this damaging trend.
#2. Averting or Exiting Harmful State Contracts
Legislation like the “Eliminate Economic Boycotts Act” would enable states to avert or exit contracts with companies that discriminate based on ESG. The state would be able to demand assurance that no part of the business seeking to work with the state is engaged in ESG discrimination. This protects states from unintentionally supporting companies engaged in the above-described objectionable activity.
BlackRock is an investment management company that holds 7.2% ownership of PetroChina and increased its ownership earlier this year. BlackRock’s ESG policies pressured Exxon to divest in energy assets only for PetroChina to purchase those very assets. ESG thus presents significant national security concerns by creating a means for our adversary, the Chinese Communist Party, to obtain key energy resources at America’s expense. Empowering states to avert or exit contracts with ESG fanatics is the most appropriate response.
#3. Fighting Banking Discrimination
Legislation like Florida’s law to protect viewpoint diversity in banking prohibits financial institutions from discriminating against customers for their religious, political, or social beliefs in order to prevent politically disfavored people or businesses from obtaining loans, lines of credit, and bank accounts.
JPMorgan Chase is the biggest bank in America. Unfortunately, it used its clout to deny a religious liberty organization access to its banking services. According to reporting, the bank conditioned access on a demand for a list of donors from whom the organization received contributions and the political candidates whom the organization intended to support. This action points to viewpoint discrimination, and comments from JPMorgan Chase in February 2023 have not dispelled this concern. Legislation to prohibit such action would put in place stronger protections against hostility towards customers’ beliefs.
The most important means to counter ESG is public opposition. These model policies are an important tool in the overall response to eliminate ESG dogmatism.