Conservative shareholder-activists turned up the pressure on what they say is liberal-leaning “woke” corporate culture in several proposals at annual boardroom meetings over the past week.
The activists said they felt buoyed by Disney’s worse-than-expected first-quarter earnings report — which came as Florida stripped the company of preferential tax benefits over its transgender political lobbying — and by Kohl’s shareholders who rejected a liberal investor’s push to replace up to 10 board directors at their annual meeting on Wednesday.
“Momentum continues to build for shareholders’ rights and against woke activism,” Elaine Parker, president of the Job Creators Network Foundation, told The Washington Times in an email.
Ms. Parker, whose advocacy group has launched a boardroom initiative, added that Disney’s stock had dropped “about 25%” since the company started battling a Florida law that bans lessons on sexual identity from K-3 public school classrooms.
“We’re optimistic that the Disney fiasco will turn out to be a milestone in this broader cultural debate,” she said. “We are winning but some of the most important fights are still to come.”
Disney, which did not respond to a request for comment, claimed a small victory this week in narrowly exceeding expectations for subscriptions to its Disney+ streaming app.
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Meanwhile, shareholders at Verizon, ConocoPhillips and CVS Health voted down conservative proposals aimed at exposing progressive political activism on issues ranging from racial hiring quotas to Chinese communist business ties after their boards of directors recommended against them.
“The more newsworthy aspect for proponents like us is what we have the opportunity to speak to directors and top executives directly at these shareholder meetings,” Paul Chesser, director of the Corporate Integrity Project at the National Legal and Policy Center, said in an email.
Mr. Chesser’s NLPC, which purchases stock in major corporations, demanded financial transparency for corporate funding of progressive advocacy groups at the annual shareholder meetings of Verizon and ConocoPhillips.
Mr. Chesser told Verizon shareholders on Thursday that Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg made “white-guilt” donations during Black Lives Matters protests in 2020 “as he virtue-signaled his commitment to ‘diversity and inclusion’ by committing $10 million of company resources to so-called social justice organizations.”
He said the company failed to disclose how much money it gave to the advocacy groups of progressive activists Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
Verizon’s board rejected the proposal on p. 59 of the cellphone giant’s proxy statement, giving shareholders this reason: “We have appropriate governance processes in place, which confirm that our giving is aligned with our values and purpose.”
Verizon shareholders also rejected a separate proposal from lobbyist and Fox News commentator Steven Milloy that sought a report on the company’s business ties to China’s communist party.
On Tuesday, ConocoPhillips shareholders voted down a similar proposal from Mr. Chesser to audit their charitable contributions.
Activists from the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), which purchases stock in companies through its Free Enterprise Project, also proposed an audit of CVS Health’s diversity, equity and inclusion hiring policies and employee anti-racism training program.
“What we are asking the company for is a report that focuses on whether, in its myriad diversity, inclusion and equity efforts, the company is discriminating against employees that it has not honored with the label ‘diverse,’” Scott Shepard, the project’s director, told CVS shareholders at their annual meeting on Wednesday.
None of the companies that conservatives targeted this week responded to a request for comment.
CVS shareholders rejected Wednesday’s proposal – the 27th that the NCPPR has presented at shareholder meetings so far this year after earlier efforts at Disney, Coca-Cola, Bank of America and Citigroup — after its board deemed the report unnecessary.
The NCPPR urged shareholders to vote against all of the board members of Intel, Wyndham Hotel Group and Ford Motor Co. for their role in promoting progressive policies — but all were reelected.
Investor William Flaig, CEO of the American Conservative Values ETF that boycotts many of the companies,…