Go woke, go broke: Policy Exchange think-tank defends capitalism

Go woke, go broke, warns think-tank as it launches defence of profit-driven capitalism

Businesses must beware of becoming too ‘woke’ at the expense of their financial performance, a leading conservative think-tank has warned.

The Policy Exchange has waded into the row over what a company’s role should be and defended the pursuit of profit.

Firms such as Unilever have drawn criticism for putting too much emphasis on their social ‘purpose’. 

Firms like Unilever, which refuses to sell Ben and Jerry’s ice cream in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’, have drawn criticism for putting too much emphasis on their social ‘purpose’

So woke has the company become that Unilever refuses to sell one of its brands, Ben & Jerry’s, in the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’. 

In a paper, Sir Geoffrey Owen, a former editor of the Financial Times and head of industrial policy at the Policy Exchange, defended capitalism arguing that competition between profit-making firms is best for everyone.

He wrote: ‘In the last few years the capitalist system has come under attack. The single-minded pursuit of profit, and a higher share price is said to encourage companies to do bad things. 

But shareholder-based capitalism remains the most effective means of promoting economic growth, innovation and prosperity.’

He noted recent claims by woke activists that the principle of putting investors and profit first had caused problems such as environmental disasters. 

But he dismissed this view as ‘too simplistic’, and said focusing on shareholder value did not necessarily mean running a company only for investors’ benefit.


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