DeSantis Fights Back Against ESG And ‘Whimsical Notions Of A Utopian Tomorrow’

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is fighting back against the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) movement in the Sunshine State, passing a resolution that directs Florida fund managers to invest state pension funds in a way that generates the highest return for the state’s taxpayers and retirees, rather than based on ideological agendas or preferences.

On August 23, DeSantis, along with trustees of the State Board of Administration (SBA), passed a resolution stipulating that investment decisions “must be based only on pecuniary factors… Pecuniary factors do not include the consideration of the furtherance of social, political, or ideological interests.”

The resolution also stresses that the SBA “may not sacrifice investment return or take on additional investment risk to promote any non-pecuniary factors” when making investments or proxy votes.

This resolution was made up of two of three legislative proposals that DeSantis announced on July 27. All three of the proposals were intended to fight back against the ESG agenda, which “threatens the vitality of the American economy and Americans’ economic freedom” and targets “disfavored individuals and industries to advance a woke ideological agenda.”

If enacted, the third proposal would “prohibit big banks, credit card companies and money transmitters from discriminating against customers for their religious, political or social beliefs,” according to reporting from TheBlaze.

In a press release on Tuesday, DeSantis blasted the concept of ESG scores and the “diversity, inclusion, and equity” push from the woke left.

“Corporate power has increasingly been utilized to impose an ideological agenda on the American people through the perversion of financial investment priorities under the euphemistic banners of environmental, social, and corporate governance and diversity, inclusion, and equity,” the press release stated.

DeSantis went on to note that the ESG movement which guided investment decisions in the past had deprioritized financial security in favor of “whimsical notions of a utopian tomorrow.”

According to Stephen Soukup’s 2021 book “The Dictatorship of Woke Capital,” the concept of ESG scores is favored by two types of investors: “the investor who very much wants to make gobs and gobs of money but doesn’t want to seem crass and greedy” and the investor who “believes that changing the world will require eliding politics as usual and circumventing the will of the people, as expressed through political means.”

DeSantis has taken issue with the second type of ESG-supporting investor in particular — posing an important question about the consequences of the left’s agenda: “Who governs society?”

“Who governs society? Do we govern ourselves through our Constitution and through our elections? Or do we have these masters of the universe occupying these commanding heights of society… able to use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not do so at the ballot box?” the governor asked.

News outlet TechCrunch recently reported that DeSantis’ move to fight back against the ESG movement could potentially be detrimental to businesses who promote diversity, inclusion and equity, as well as “diverse founders.”

NetGen ESG’s chief investment officer, Sasja Beslik — who has been an advocate for the ESG movement — referred to DeSantis’ resolution as “tragic,” claiming that “pension money… runs the most significant financial risk if they don’t take ESG into account.”

Florida is not the only state that has taken issue with the ESG agenda. This week, Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar (R) identified 10 companies and 348 investment funds that have been hostile to energy companies and will thus be prohibited from doing business with the state.

Hegar issued a statement on Wednesday calling out the movement for creating a “perverse system” that has caused some companies to “no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients” — asserting that these companies “instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy.”