A former top executive for Levi’s, one of the largest jean companies, is expressing her frustration with how “woke capitalism” has taken over corporations.
In an op-ed published by The New York Post, Jennifer Sey argued “woke capitalism is corporate America’s attempt to profit off of Millennial and Gen Z activism, often passive keyboard activism.”
According to Sey, it “exploits social-justice politics and transforms it into social-justice consumerism — and ultimately, investor profit.”
She suggested “companies purporting to care about ‘progressive values’ are really doing nothing more than striking a superficial pose meant to signal virtue while distracting from any company’s true motive: financial gain for shareholders.”
Taking aim at CEOs, Sey explained they want to “distance themselves” from the image of previous business leaders who were considered “greedy.”
Criticizing tech companies for their change the world “cultiness,” Sey wrote, “You don’t just work at Google. You’re connecting people to information that is life-changing, driving the digital revolution at the end of which we’ll all be so much better off than we are now.”
She did not hold back on her belief CEOs “would have us believe that they are our saviors.”
The op-ed goes on, “Bill Gates is eliminating malaria and saving the children in Africa. Howard Schultz is running for president to save our Democracy. Elon Musk is not only saving the planet with electric vehicles, he also is exploring new frontiers in space and defending free speech for the masses.”
Sey noted there was a time when doctors and lawyers were the foundation of the community.
“But now, business leaders seem to have taken that mantle,” Sey wrote.
Reflecting on her professional experience, Sey shared she “can’t tell you how many business leaders use his quote ‘Stay hungry. Stay foolish’ as their email sign-offs. It clothes naked capitalism with profundity and meaning.”
CEOs were not the only ones she criticized.
“In this new Gilded Age, journalists — themselves often politically biased and ethically compromised — have continued to spread the fiction that corporate leaders and entrepreneurs are not just ‘good’ people but near god-like figures,” Sey claimed.
Additionally, the former top executive declares today’s “ostentatiously woke CEOs are more than happy to play along, eager to prove that they are not just guys out to make a buck.”
Sey continues, “Woke capitalism signals that their guiding intention is to make this a better, more just world, even as it distracts us from their only true intention: enhancing their companies’ bottom line, and their own.”
Pointing out that she is not against capitalism, Sey clarified she is “against the charade that is social-justice capitalism.”
Concluding her op-ed, Sey called the “gutsy stance” of fighting injustice a “persona, a public facade, a wealth-generating marketing strategy.”
Accusing the companies of fearing the “angry mob,” Sey said, “That mob may interfere with their ability to produce inter-generational private-plane wealth. They want to make as much money as possible, but they want everyone, including their kids and their kids’ cohort, to think that they really just want to make a difference in the world. ‘Oh gee, aw shucks, I happened to make gazillions of dollars. But that’s just ’cause I’m really, really good at heart.'”
In March, The New York Times noted Sey was a top candidate to serve as the company’s next leader.
However, her “unusual exit” from the company “generated a flurry of headlines, with her claiming in a widely circulated essay that her advocacy for school reopenings during the pandemic made her a pariah at work and ultimately led to her ouster,” as the Times reported.