Backlash against ‘woke’ business as half of Brits say they are too PC

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor for Mailonline

08:33 May 19, 2024, updated 10:57 May 19, 2024

Half of Brits believe companies are too fixated on political correctness, a survey found today.

A survey found that 50 percent agree that companies are “too preoccupied with taking political positions on controversial issues,” while only 14 percent disagree.

Research by Deltapoll for the think tank Policy Exchange also shows that 75 percent believe that companies should hire people based on merit, regardless of race or gender and greater diversity.

Business Minister Kemi Badenoch said it showed bosses should focus on delivering for customers, rather than “activism or political goals”.

Policy Exchange has launched a project to “methodically document and address the role and influence of social and ideological considerations on contemporary business,” particularly “at the expense of shareholders and broader societal interests.”

Researchers highlighted examples such as the debanking row, ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s criticism of the government over its asylum policy and coffee chain Costa’s mural showing a transgender person with mastectomy scars sipping a drink in one of its express vans.

According to the poll, a third of Brits believe someone in their workplace has been hired or promoted to achieve diversity and inclusion goals, and not in the best interests of the company.

About 43 percent said they would be less likely to continue working for a company that asked them to wear pronoun badges. Only 7 percent said they would be more likely to want to work for a company that made the request.

Ms Badenoch said well-intentioned ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ initiatives were ‘dividing rather than uniting’.

The minister said: ‘Policy Exchange’s findings confirm what I know to be true from talking to people who run, work in and buy from businesses.

‘The public wants the focus of business to be on delivering great products and services, not on activism or political causes – which turn off as many people as they attract.

“Overwhelmingly, people want companies to recruit based on merit, selecting the best person for the job regardless of race or gender, rather than social engineering to create ‘diverse teams.’

Earlier this year, an independent panel appointed by Ms Badenoch found that companies were implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives without an evidence base.

Ms Badenoch said: ‘As the recent Inclusion at Work Panel has shown, many well-intentioned ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ initiatives divide rather than unite, and undermine the organisation’s objectives.

Business secretary Kemi Badenoch said it showed bosses should focus on delivering for customers rather than ‘activism or political goals’

‘They are based on speculative and controversial theories with limited evidence of impact.

“The Policy Exchange program is a timely and welcome contribution to documenting the creeping – and counterproductive – politicization of our business environment.

‘I am committed to working with businesses on effective ways to boost economic growth, as well as the Government’s Inclusive Britain targets – smarter ways to achieve true equality of opportunity.’

Lara Brown, senior research fellow at Policy Exchange, said: ‘Customers don’t believe companies should demonstrate a commitment to progressive principles and not make spending decisions based on retailers’ political statements.

‘Workers are also negatively affected by the politicization of business, with many skeptical of workplace arrangements tailored to equality, diversity and inclusivity.’

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