Hedge Fund Billionaire Bill Ackman Targets DEI’s ‘Anti-Capitalist’ ‘Ideology’ After Harvard President Claudine Gay Resigns

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By journalsofus.com

Bill Ackman scored a victory in his campaign against Harvard when the university’s president, Claudia Gay, resigned on Monday Following accusations that he failed to adequately respond to anti-Semitism on campus. Not wanting to rest, Ackman is now broadening his reach to take aim at Harvard’s overall approach, accusing the institution of being a victim of what he calls “a political advocacy movement” and an “ideology” known as DEI that is anti-meritocratic. to the bone. .

According to the billionaire hedge fund manager, the anti-Semitism he had Harvard previously accused “wasn’t the core of the problem,” but simply “a troubling warning sign” of the real problem: an obsession with DEI, or diversity, equity and inclusion, that has become something completely different from the three concepts included in the acronym. , said in X on Tuesday.

In the 4,000-word post, Ackman described DEI as a “movement” that is the antithesis of any merit-based program, including capitalism itself. Ackman’s letter appears to be the first widespread criticism of DEI as “anti-capitalist” and broadens the scope of a years-long debate over DEI initiatives that has roiled the business community. Now, instead of DEI being part of a new way of looking at “stakeholder capitalism,” Ackman accuses it of being an “ideology” detrimental to the functioning of a capitalist economy.

“Under the ideology of DEI,” he wrote, “any policy, program, educational system, economic system, grading system, admissions policy (and even climate change due to its disparate impact on geographies and the people who live there) , etc. “Unequal results between people of different skin colors is considered racist.” By this standard, he continued, “capitalism is racist, Advanced Placement exams are racist, IQ tests are racist, corporations are racist…” Stepping back from his analysis, he said that using the lens of “ oppression” means that any merit- A program, system or organization based on “that has or generates results for different races that are at odds with the proportion that these different races represent in the general population is, by definition, racist according to ideology of DEI.”

Ackman then accused diversity advocates of censoring dissenting opinions, similar to the Red Scare of the 1920s and 1950s, which culminated in congressional hearings to root out suspected communist sympathizers in American industry. Except as Ackman says, DEI advocates are in charge of institutions and have the power, while those who disagree with DEI principles “may find [themselves] unemployed, rejected by colleagues, canceled and/or [they] otherwise it will put [their] career and acceptance in society at risk.

“The techniques DEI has used to crush opposition are found in the Red Scares and McCarthyism of decades past,” Ackman wrote. A few lines later he called DEI efforts a step “on the path to socialism” that is “intrinsically inconsistent with basic American values.”

If capitalism is racist, is DEI anti-capitalist?

Ackman’s speech is far from the first attack on DEI in recent years. Diversity initiatives have been affected growing conservative fire who claim that such efforts are racist toward white Americans, sometimes lumping them in with other liberal-sounding corporate programs, such as an emphasis on ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing. These programs are rebranded as “anti-white racism” or, in the case of ESG, as discrimination against fossil fuels.

That effort, which culminated in the Supreme Court’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions last year, has been years in the making. Former President Donald Trump banned diversity and sensitivity training in 2020 executive order, calling it an “evil ideology” similar to stereotypes. States like Florida and Texas have passed laws restricting discussions about diversity in higher education. Last summer, Republican attorneys general put all Fortune 100 companies on notice about its corporate diversity programs, which observers believe are the Next objective of the conservative high court.

There have been versions of corporate diversity efforts since the 1970s, when the federal government formally banned workplace discrimination based on sex, race, or national origin. But DEI as a brand has really flourished over the last decade, gaining steam post-2020. murder of george floyd and the social outcry for racial equity that it fueled. The late 2010s shift toward a more holistic, kinder capitalism argued that corporations should consider all their stakeholders—employees, communities, and customers—in their actions.

“Each of our stakeholders is essential. “We are committed to delivering value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country,” the influential Business Roundtable wrote in 2019, in a statement detailing its members’ commitment to paying fair wages, embracing diversity, doing business sustainably, and dealing ethically with suppliers. It was a notable rejection of the shareholder primacy dogma of the previous four decades that held that a corporation’s only responsibility was to generate profits for shareholders, a view that critics said bordered on psychopathic.

However, the right’s latest legal and cultural attack puts those goals in jeopardy. And companies are responding to the backlash: six major corporations, including american airlines, Black Rock, JPMorgan Chaseand Lowe’s, diluted statements commit to diversity policies, Reuters reported last month.

Ironically, despite the much criticism that DEI initiatives receive from the conservative camp, they have also been criticized by liberals and leftists for being ineffective at closing racial gaps, perpetuating stereotypes, or even allowing companies a way to reputation washing. In an extreme example of the latter, The interception reported in CoreCivic, the private prison company, touting its support for the “principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.” Employees themselves are often skeptical of these efforts, data shows: 75% of respondents in a Catalyst survey last year in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States said they believed their company’s racial equity policies were disingenuous.

Throughout all of this, the fundamental problem that DEI was ostensibly supposed to solve has remained stubbornly persistent. About one in six Americans is black, but blacks make up only 4% of the leadership in big companieswhile the difference between what black and white workers earn has remained, by some metrics, unchanged since the 1950s.

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