The Forces Behind ESG’s Blacklisting Effect

A new report unveils the coalition of politically active shareholders.

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Underneath the political back-and-forth over environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing, we are seeing a sinister shift in targets. What began as a campaign among left-wing asset managers to blacklist and boycott fossil fuel companies has evolved into an exercise of political control over corporate investments. As a result, we are faced with a worrying strand of social justice vengeance that would blacklist any entity for voicing dissent against ESG practices. 

At the state level, blacklisting has become a reciprocal political tactic for controlling pension fund planning. Where red states like Oklahoma and West Virginia have blacklisted left-leaning asset managers for absconding their fiduciary responsibilities in favor of ESG, blue states like Illinois have barred financial professionals from becoming pension fund managers if they fail to incorporate ESG investment strategies.

A new report by the American Accountability Foundation (AAF) reveals how a coalition of politically active shareholders are advancing resolutions to name organizations deemed anti-ESG and shame their base of supporters. The report lists 46 organizations — think tanks, trade associations, advocacy groups — that have been targeted across shareholder proposals for vilification as ESG dissidents. According to the report, the endgame for this ESG blacklist is to produce a reactionary “chilling effect” that will “decrease membership in, and contributions to, any organization or individual that the left deems ‘incongruent’ with liberal orthodoxy.”  

The chilling effect from ESG blacklisting takes a page from infamous political organizer Saul Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals. Rule #13 teaches one to “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.” A similar strategy is being pursued through ESG blacklisting by the combined efforts of a pro-ESG trio: the Corporate Reform Coalition, the Proxy Preview triad, and the Center for Political Accountability. 

Each group exercises a massive corporate lobbying advantage to advance a set of resolutions dissuading philanthropic support for ESG dissidents. Many of these resolutions pressure corporations to pledge support for certain ESG-centric causes. These include corporate net-zero pledges, anti-discrimination trainings, and diversity quotas. 

Read the full article on The American Spectator.