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This Machine Makes Companies Woke

The Human Rights Campaign’s annual “Corporate Equality Index” is where the ideological rubber meets the financial road.

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow. (hodim/Shutterstock)

In the past few years, conservatives have enlisted abstractions like “woke capital” to describe the strange way that Fortune 100 companies have become hotbeds of leftwing activism. These terms often mystify the issue and obscure how specific people created specific mechanisms that led to this outcome. Each year the Human Rights Campaign releases its “Corporate Equality Index”; this is one of the primary tools used to inject extreme gender ideology into corporate America. Despite constant warnings about the “woke mind virus,” the HRC just released their 2023 index ratings, and no one on the right seemed to notice. 

The HRC Corporate Equality Index (CEI) is essentially a social credit score created by activists that is used to hijack corporations. The HRC is the largest trans lobbying group in the world, and their CEI tool ranks companies based on their policies regarding sexual orientation issues. At the start of the year HRC comes up with different ways to score points, and then sends surveys out to companies about their policies. Each year the criteria to receive a perfect score get a little more extreme. Companies can score points with initiatives like marketing that features trans people, or having health care plans that cover trans surgeries. Institutional investors like BlackRock can then use CEI scores as a way to direct investment and drive money towards companies that signal a commitment to “diversity and inclusion.” In this way, the HRC steadily marches corporate policies towards the left. 


The CEI creates an incentive structure that rewards corporations for acting in a way that would otherwise be described as irrational. Why would Bud Light think it was a good idea to do marketing with a trans activist? Why would Target offend half the mom’s in the country by selling “tuck friendly” swimsuits for children? Without reference to the CEI, both of these initiatives seem like instances of a mysterious “mind virus” turning otherwise rational business leaders into unhinged activists. Both businesses were most likely attempting to increase their CEI score. 

This is not just an issue of marketing and public relations. Companies are increasingly taking on a series of unknown risks related to trans surgeries. Various organizations are going to have to payout millions in settlements. Just as Bud Light wasn’t able to predict the obvious repercussions of their marketing, business leaders are currently oblivious to the risks associated with paying for child sex change surgeries. Yet the CEI score provides a goad by which radicals in the business world can push these companies to embrace these liabilities.

The CEI is such a key linchpin in the network turning corporations into hotbeds of radical activism that Conservatives should treat it like an enemies list. For example, almost every single company that is trying to shut down free speech on X also received a 100 percent score on the CEI. Disney is in the middle of a PR disaster that could tarnish its brand forever. If it was just a business and not a political entity, it would be doing everything it could to stay out of any controversy right now. Instead, it publicly celebrated achieving a 100 percent on the CEI, which means it is publicly celebrating that it will fund trans surgeries for children. 

The CEI is powerful, but it is also vulnerable. The CEI is dependent upon companies responding to their surveys, and the usefulness of the tool would immediately decrease if companies simply stopped. Since Bud Light and Target lost money pursuing trans activist goals, this could be pursued through shareholder activism, and conservative activists could propose shareholder resolutions requesting management stop. Jim Jordan’s investigation into the monopolistic practices of ESG investing should also expand to include the HRC’s role. At this year’s HRC gala, President Biden compared Americans who oppose trans surgery for children to Hamas. This sounds crazy, but the HRC has institutionalized yesterday’s insanity throughout corporate America. If conservatives don’t make a concerted effort to defang the Corporate Equality Index then today’s far left extremism will be spoken by tomorrow’s corporate leaders.


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