Last year I wrote about the risks and results of running a company as "woke." I pointed out how woke companies like Disney, Netflix, Google, Facebook, Twitter and crypto-creep Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX all tanked.
All those companies terribly underperformed while pushing their self-serving agenda onto gullible shareholders who accepted the companies' self-aggrandizing virtue-signaling instead of financial performance.
Part of the reason universities and companies talk so much about their woke agendas is that they are relieved of real accountability for the quality of education they provide or their financial performance. If you can keep pointing to all the woke things you can say you did, you can divert attention from the things that are hard, like accountability metrics: "Yes, we lost market share and profits are down, but the accounting department just hired our first Albino-African American-Transgendered head of auditing. Aren't we cool?"
Such is the startling recent case of Silicon Valley Bank. The nation's 16th largest bank failed last week amid virtue-signaling instead of tending to its business. It's the second biggest bank failure in American history.
With all the Democrats' bank regulations, one would think they would have seen this coming. The reality is that if you act woke and donate to Democratic causes, the deep state regulators look the other way. It has been true from Madoff until now. This bank got the highest ESG ratings and did not even have a chief risk officer.
At an investor conference on Tuesday of last week, Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, fielded the question, "When you're not working, what do you do to de-stress?" "Cycling is my advice," he replied. "Living in Northern California and being on the peninsula. That's just -- I think it's the best bike-riding/cycling in the world, period." Three days later, Becker's bank went under.
The week before, Tucker Carlson pointed out that on a ski trip during International Women's Day, bank executives celebrated themselves as trailblazers. I guess they should vote themselves beauty queen titles, too: Miss Management.
Being in California, SVB was doubly cursed. This is the same state whose governor, Gavin Newsom of French Laundry Restaurant hypocrisy fame, pulled state business from Walgreens and told them they are no longer welcome in California because the drug store chain will not sell the abortion medication Mifepristone in certain states. Now California residents will be forced to do all their smash-and-grabs at CVS.
I foresee Gavin's next woke move will be to rewrite all classic children's books in the state with a leftist bent. "Mary Had a Little Lamb" will be because the big bad GOP would not let her have an abortion.
The woke nature of corporate America must make working in it very boring. I can totally see the James Bond series going away because it glorified the Sean Connery-type, manly man. In the 2023 version of a Bond film, 007 flirts with disaster and then is reported to human resources for flirting on the job. Like mandated COVID shots and all the dictates of the left jammed down your throats, working in corporate America today must be a soul-wrenching grind.
Stock performance, humor, college educations and political discourse are all victims of the woke culture. Those who embrace woke culture are hiding the fact that they are not very good at what they do. To repurpose and modernize a Ralph Emerson quote about a dinner guest, "The more he spoke of his social virtues, the more I began to count the silverware."
Disney led the way last year when it took on Gov. Ron DeSantis and pushed the woke agenda. The tiny and cute Tinker Bell will likely be replaced with a less fat-shaming character called Taco Bell.
Contact Ron Hart, a syndicated op-ed satirist, author and TV/radio commentator, at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.