Once upon a time, corporations stuck to their business of supplying Americans with goods and services. Today corporations advance progressive political causes. Businesses face progressive pressures from many directions. Woke employees create a toxic workplace and push companies to advance progressive causes. Employees and contractors face termination for being insufficiently politically incorrect. When executives embrace stakeholder capitalism, they delegitimate stockholders’ ownership and the pursuit of profit.
Unfortunately, such “woke capitalism” undermines many of the traditional virtues of commerce that enable cooperation between diverse individuals. The extent of wokeness in business – from employees to executives and across the economy – indicates a systemic problem. And this implicates business education. Business leaders should know that an honorable business should not advance social justice to justify its existence.
The Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy’s Free Enterprise Scholars program will teach future business leaders about the virtues of commerce and the morality of honest profit. Our first cohort of students this year will learn about the virtues and the morality of commerce. These scholars will read and discuss authors like Vivek Ramaswamy and James Otteson and hear lectures on Bourgeois dignity and ESG. In the future we hope to expand the program to include a multi-year curriculum. We envision internships with businesses sharing the principles of honorable business. Johnson Center Free Enterprise Scholars will be role models and spokespersons for free market commerce.