Fox Business reports that Unilever CEO Alan Jope, in an appearance at the 2022 Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York, "reaffirmed the consumer goods giant's sustainability agenda … saying it 'will not back down' despite 'ant-sustainability' and 'anti-woke' backlash." Jope, the story says,, "called 'anti-sustainability' and 'anti-woke' backlash 'incredibly dangerous for the world.' He also argued that saying 'we have a climate emergency' has started becoming unpopular."
Some context from the Fox Business story:
"Unilever unveiled its Climate Transition Action Plan in March 2021, announcing a goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions within the company to zero by 2030 and across its 'value chain' to net-zero by 2039.
"The consumer goods giant put its sustainability plan to a shareholder vote in which it 'squeaked through with 99.6% shareholder support,' Jope said. He credited BlackRock with leading the support and described the investment firm as 'one of the finest commentators on sustainability and what companies should be doing.'
"BlackRock, headed by Larry Fink, has become a leader in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing and pushing other companies to take up such agendas in a commitment to decarbonization, sustainability and social justice causes."
- KC's View:
I've always thought that sustainability is not just a noble goal, but smart business - in the long run, taking care of your resources so they last longer and you do less harm to the planet is an intelligent fiscal and ethical approach.
I've never really understood the whole anti-woke thing, to be honest. I've always thought of being "woke" as trying to be sensitive to the concerns of others, to think beyond my own perceptions, to avoid epistemic closure. When businesses and investment funds decide to focus on ESG, they're making a bet that this approach will pay off better in the long term. It's their bet. If other companies and funds don't want to make the same bet, that's okay … people can decided to do business or make investments with companies that best reflect their own priorities. If you don't approve of an ESG orientation, do business with someone else. And yet, there often are stories about investors complaining about companies with a focus on ESG, trying to force them to take a different approach.
Me, I'd rather be awake than asleep. But that's me, and I may define the term less radically and less politically than others.