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Corporate activism overtakes duty to shareholders

Zachary Halaschak writes for the Washington Examiner about a disturbing development in corporate America.

Increasing corporate involvement in political and social justice initiatives has led some investors to worry they are straying from solely prioritizing shareholder value.

Over the past few months, and really years, companies have begun to wade further into the realm of politics and issues of social justice that don’t directly have an impact on their bottom lines. Executives at major companies are championing environmental, social, and political causes in droves.

Several corporations caused a stir when they became involved with opposing Georgia’s new voting law. The law, which was passed by Republicans in the fallout of the 2020 presidential election, soon became a lightning rod of activism. Major League Baseball even pulled its All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest.

More recently, without specifically naming the legislation, dozens of companies announced their opposition in a statement to two Texas bills — one that would mandate students only compete in sporting competitions based on their sex at birth and the other that would define giving puberty suppression drugs to minors as “abuse of a child.”

The movement gained even more traction, with hundreds of businesses and individuals signing a new statement this month saying they feel a “responsibility” more broadly to oppose any laws that restrict voting rights. The push has attracted vocal GOP opposition, with Republicans warning companies not to become more enmeshed in politics and activism.

Richard Shinder, a longtime investment banking and investing professional, told the Washington Examiner that he thinks the movement could cause investors to examine more closely to what extent corporations are prioritizing investors.

The founder and managing partner of Theatine Partners said that while it is still in the “early days” of this corporate shift, he thinks that over time, investors will become wiser and more attuned to “which companies have that narrower focus on value maximization versus those that are trying to balance creating shareholder value with other objectives.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...