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Former McDonald’s CEO sets up group to fight back against woke corporations

A former McDonald’s CEO credited with inventing the McNugget is now leading the charge against corporations that implement woke policies.

Ed Rensi, who served as the CEO of McDonalds from 1991 to 1997, is partnering with conservative advocacy groups to form The Boardroom Initiative, FOX News has reported.  

Its goal is to protect share holders and employees of publicly traded companies from ‘woke’ policies, which the group says imperil profits and thus betray the very shareholders who pay corporation staffs’ wages.

The Boardroom Initiative also aims to counter left-wing groups’ decision to buy up stocks in the businesses until they raise enough clout to lobby the board to adopt woke policies on issues including gender and race. 

The Free Enterprise Project, an existing body which has joined forces with The Boardroom Initiative, has laid out a blueprint to tackle woke overreach.

Its members have bought 2,000 Bank of America shares – enough to formally propose a motion at the next shareholder meeting. They will now demand the firm undertake a civil rights audit to try and stop staff pushing critical race theory-inspired ‘equity’ training on staff at its upcoming meeting. 

Companies have been urged in recent years to adopt more liberal policies so they could raise more money from groups like money management firms like BlackRock, which look at a company’s ‘environmental, social and governance’ factors. 

Many now regularly issue statements on issues including police brutality and transgender treatments for children.  Blue-chip firms which have pushed critical race theory-inspired training on staff include American Express and Disney

Former McDonalds CEO Ed Rensi, pictured here in 1991 showing off a lower fat hamburger, will lead the charge to fight back against companies that implement woke policies

But Rensi says that woke obsessions are hitting firms’ bottom lines, meaning they’re failing in their duty to shareholders. 

‘Corporations have no business being on the right or the left because they represent everybody there and their sole job is to build equity for their investors,’ Rensi, 78, said.

He noted that he does not consider himself politically active, but wants to act in the best interest of the share holders – who he believe are being negatively affected as companies implement more woke policies.

‘It is not the providence of board members or executives that take shareholder money profit and spend it on social matters,’ said Rensi, who has also served on the boards for Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que, Great Wolf Resorts and Snap-on Inc. 

He is joined in his efforts by Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus, who founded the Job Creators Network, as well as conservative groups The Free Enterprise Group and Second Vote.

He partnered with Home Depot cofounder Bernard Marcus, right, who had previously founded the Job Creators Network

He partnered with Home Depot cofounder Bernard Marcus, right, who had previously founded the Job Creators Network

The Free Enterprise Project, a member of the group, has already bought out nearly 2,000 shares of Bank of America

The Free Enterprise Project, a member of the group, has already bought out nearly 2,000 shares of Bank of America


The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.

The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country over the last year and the introduction of the 1619 Project.

The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.

The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.

Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.

Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.

The Boardroom Initiative has already set its sights on Bank of America, with its member The Free Enterprise Group already buying out nearly 2,000 shares of the banking giant.

They plan to use that clout at the company’s annual meeting next week to call for a civil rights audit of the racial equity policies at the company to ensure no race or gender groups are being excluded in the name of equity or antiracism, according to FOX. 

The bank has previously found itself under fire for allegedly training its employees on critical race theory – which states that racism is a social construct that has been embedded in American legal systems and policies. 

Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow and director of the initative on critical race theory at the conservative Manhattan Institute, had claimed last year that Bank of America’s Market President in Charlotte, North Carolina promoted the theory, which critics claim promotes racism by categorizing people into ‘oppressors’ and the ‘oppressed.’

He said that the market president had created a new initiative called United in Action, in partnership with United Way of Central Carolinas, which he claimed promoted putting ‘marginalized’ staff over ‘privileged’ staff, and teaching them to ‘decolonize their minds.’

Bank officials have since said that the program was run independently of the company, and is not a part of their employee training. 

‘Hopefully, the Boardroom Initiative is the beginning of a new era in corporate America in which extremes of ideological politics are set aside so that everyone can work on creating value for both customers and investors,’ said Richard Morrison, a senior fellow at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, of the group’s efforts.

The banking giant has come under fire in recent years for allegedly training its employees on critical race theory

The banking giant has come under fire in recent years for allegedly training its employees on critical race theory

The move to create such an organization comes amid growing backlash to the rise of ESG scores, for which companies could receive more money from groups such as BlackRock – the largest asset manager in the world.

Indexes for ESG investments have grown over recent years, and now retirement systems and local governments throughout the country have embraced them to influence corporate behavior.

In New York, Bloomberg reports, public pensions have filed shareholder resolutions at some of the largest American companies asking them to address issues like climate change, worker rights and racial injustice.

And the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-largest pension fund in the country, announced last month that it will vote against board directors and corporate proposals at companies deemed to have low ESG scores.

Now, the American Legislative Exchange Council – a Wall Street-aligned group that pushes for conservative legislation – is pushing legislators to introduce a bill that would prevent public pensions from making investments focused solely on ESG scores.

‘Every state employee should have full faith and confidence that their retirement funds are being invested for maximum growth and not being used to promote a political agenda, Lee Schalk, ALEC’s vice president of policy, said in a statement.


Companies can obtain an ‘ESG’ label when they invest in causes seen as benefiting the environment or fulfilling a social good.

Often, corporate investors like BlackRock – the largest asset manager in the world – give money specifically to ESG causes, which often results in more funding as they are seen as fulfilling a social good.

But these companies often decide for themselves what counts as socially beneficial –  A Bloomberg investigation in 2021 found that many companies just said whatever padded out their bottom line was in their eyes ‘ESG’.

Since investors have trouble agreeing on the definition, political entities such as the EU try to decide for them – providing a list of sectors they view as socially beneficial. This is called the ‘EU Taxonomy’. 

In 2020, a record amount of cash flooded into ‘ESG funds’.

But a company’s record on climate change often had little impact on how it preformed in an ESG index – a list that supposedly rates companies in terms of how much social good they bring about.

On April 23, the MSCI – the largest ESG index of company stock – gave McDonald’s a ratings upgrade, citing the company’s environmental practices.

But McDonald’s only achieved this after the index dropped any carbon emissions from its rating criteria.

McDonalds then got an even better rating for installing recycling bins in the UK and France – countries where it gets fined if it doesn’t install recycling bins.

The MSCI index uses terms like ‘water stress’ as an environmental positive – but this is in fact measured by whether the local community has enough water for the company, not whether the company is stressing the water supply of the community. 

The size of such ESG investment indexes has risen to billion of US dollars in recent years.

Italian aerospace and defense group Leonardo called on the EU last year to label the defense sector as sustainable rather than socially harmful.

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