Last Friday, Silicon Valley Bank collapsed, prompting instability in financial markets and the banking industry more generally. Several prominent politicians and business leaders, including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, have blamed “woke” business practices for SVB’s demise, and now, new data from the Claremont Institute Center for the American Way of Life seems to support those claims.
The Claremont database lists various big-name corporations that have donated to Black Lives Matter and other organizations affiliated with BLM in the last few years. According to the database, BLM and its affiliates have collected nearly $82.9 billion since 2020 and reportedly used much of that money to fund urban riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death; to morally blackmail companies into undermining capitalism and adopting so-called environmental, social, and governance practices; and to indoctrinate schoolchildren into hating “themselves, their peers, and their country,” Claremont recently argued in Newsweek.
Of that $82.9 billion, SVB contributed a whopping $73 million and publicized its many woke, identity-based business practices over the years as well. According to the database, SVB bragged that it had expanded “opportunities for dialogue, including hosting over 40 small group ‘Conversation Circles’ in which over two thirds of our employees participated in discussions about racial equity issues.” SVB also claimed that it published its first diversity, equity, and inclusion report in 2020 and the following year “pledged to invest $50M” in its DEI “programs and partnerships.”
Other reports demonstrate that SVB had diverted its focus from tech start-up investments and shareholder interests to LGBTQ+ activism. SVB’s chief risk officer in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, Jay Ersapah, whose office is located in the U.K., spent considerable time discussing her biography as “a queer person of color and a first-generation immigrant from a working-class background” who claimed she rarely saw “role models” when she was growing up.
Ersapah also arranged several pride-related events and received global acclaim for organizing SVB’s “first ever global ‘safe space catch-up’, supporting employees in sharing their experiences of coming out,” according to Outstanding, an organizations that recognizes LGBTQ+ role models in the international business world. The Outstanding feature on Ersapah made no mention of her capabilities as a financial risk assessor.
In the wake of the run at SVB, several Republicans have decried the bank’s woke activism and blamed its activism for much of its insolvency. On Sunday, Representative James Comer (R-Ky.) called SVB “one of the most woke banks in [its] quest for the ESG-type policy and investing” and predicted that its collapse “could be a trend” that resulted from “bad Democrat policy.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) also chimed in, claiming SVB was too “concerned with diversity, equity, and inclusion and politics and all kinds of stuff” and that the bank’s emphasis on DEI kept it from “focusing on [its] core mission.”
Despite the hefty donations SVB made to BLM and other like-minded organizations, some in the industry blame the SVB run on shaky bond markets, the amount of its uninsured deposits, and rising interest rates, according to Fox Business.
Since SVB’s collapse on Friday, Signature Bank has also collapsed as well. Signature’s BLM-related donations in the last few years totaled about $850,000.
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Author: Cortney Weil
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