Op-ed: ‘Perfect storm’ of consumer, economic factors could cure corporate wokeness

From Nike to Netflix, wokeness has permeated corporate culture and its consumer offerings for years, but according to Gil Gutknecht, writing over the weekend for Townhall.com, a real reckoning appears to be descending on companies that have tried to force feed leftist ideology on the broader populace.

According to Gutknecht, the perfect case study for this phenomenon may be that of Target, the stock of which just plummeted 25% on news of lower quarterly earnings and higher costs, a shareholder disappointment reported in detail by the Wall Street Journal.

Target has long been known for progressive stances on opposite-sex bathroom usage in its stores and recently launched what has been described as a “pro-trans” clothing and merchandise line called PRIDE.

With those and other bold virtue signals under its corporate belt, Gutknecht rhetorically asks, why would customers be turning away in such significant numbers?

In his view, the current inflationary pressures confronting families across America, combined with exasperation over the leftist indoctrination encountered around every corner – and, increasingly, on every shopping trip – may amount to the “perfect storm” that finally puts the brakes on the trickle-down wokeness on which so many firms seem to have staked their futures.

Gutknecht asserts that for the past few years, deficit spending and stimulus cash permitted too many corporate leaders to delude themselves into thinking that they virtue signaling from above would be lapped up by the public indefinitely, but once the economy began to falter, consumers became more discerning with where their dollars go.

As Gutknecht notes, the shockwaves caused by Target’s numbers among some were significant, but for elites in New York and Washington, “[t]he cocktail parties continue. The band plays on. But these numbers reflect trends in the greater economy,” and, quoting Warren Buffet, “when the tide goes out, we get to see who’s been swimming in the nude,” and financial realities cannot be avoided forever.

The hypothesis advanced by Gutknecht, namely that the “get woke, go broke” maxim may finally be taking hold in a noticeable way seems to have been borne out – at least partially – by recent news that streaming platform Netflix cut nearly 300 positions in the wake of declining revenue numbers, culling many from its “wokest” programming ranks, as the Daily Mail noted.

With former McDonald’s CEO Ed Rensi recently launching a formal initiative designed to battle back against the left-wing politicization of America’s corporate boards and consumers appearing to vote with their feet – and their increasingly limited dollars – Gutknecht may right that a long overdue societal course correction may indeed be underway.