In 1792, a group of New York bankers gathered by a famous tree on Wall Street and signed the landmark “Buttonwood Agreement.” Against a backdrop of speculation and deceit, the document signaled a return to openness, fair dealing, and integrity among New York’s financial sector. Eventually, the Buttonwood Agreement became the basis for the New York Stock Exchange.
Today, corporate America faces a different crisis of values. Spurred on by the push for so-called “environmental, social, and governance principles” (ESG) a decade ago, a huge percentage of top corporations are now committed to an increasingly radical progressive agenda. This agenda is forced on employees and customers and anyone whom these corporations do business with, from vendors to HR firms to investment portfolios to every small business along the supply chain. The “Pride Month” fiascos of Bud Light and Target exemplify just how allegiant some corporations are to this agenda, completely misunderstanding their consumer base.
Recently, I spoke with Paul Fitzpatrick, president of the 1792 Exchange. Their vision is to steer public companies back toward a commonsense vision of the workplace. In our conversation, which airs as a special bonus episode of the Breakpoint podcast, Paul and I discussed how ideas long entrenched in the university and in the arts reached corporate America and have disenfranchised people of faith and moral conviction.
Corporations impact what we see, how we entertain ourselves, how we feed ourselves, how we clothe ourselves, and how we fund our businesses. And so, they can either put gas on the fire of something good or put gas on the fire of something bad.
Part of the issue, Paul explains, is how progressive groups targeted corporations after the financial crisis of 2008-09.
Remember how unpopular they were after the ’08-’09 crisis? And taxpayers bailed them out, and everybody on the right and the left were mad at corporations. … So, here they are, Wall Street is very unpopular … and they’re looking for a way to cozy up and get basically the Occupy Wall Street folks and Congress off their backs, and to some extent conservatives. But at the same time, the left is looking for a way to leverage corporations. You had said they already captured academia. We already talked about the media. But they were moving to capture corporate America.
Activists pushed corporations to get on the so-called “right side” of certain social issues.
You’ve got the Human Rights Campaign coming in saying, hey, you know, you got 100% last year. We want you to get 100% this year. So, what you need to do is … have a DEI curriculum – diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all your employees, whether you have 100 or 100,000 employees.
In the end, freedom of expression has been stifled in the workplace. Even small businesses face enormous pressure to comply with the demands of a few powerful entities.
If you have a business and you are a supplier to a major company that has signed on to the progressive agenda and all those areas we discussed, they could demand that you have certain hiring practices, which many do if you’re going to get a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which 842 companies did by the way recently, you have to mandate in your supply chain that the LGBTQ agenda and hiring is adhered to. As far as internal corporations, there’s no question we’ve seen examples of employees being fired for taking political or ideological positions outside of work.
The 1792 Exchange is working to shift the conversation by educating consumers and stockholders, supporting private businesses and business leaders, and exposing the coercive tactics of these few powerful groups. Their Corporate Bias Ratings tool reviews over 1,500 different companies, scoring them on how well they respect viewpoint diversity. Learn more about their work at 1792exchange.com, and listen to a special Breakpoint bonus episode with Paul Fitzpatrick at breakpoint.org or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Safeguarding and advancing freedom of conscience in the workplace benefits everyone.
This Breakpoint was co-authored by Kasey Leander. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
Publication date: July 5, 2023
Photo courtesy: ©Tommao Wang/Unsplash
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.