Following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, the Wall Street Journal published a column by Andy Kessler that generated outrage by insinuating the company failed because it was too busy trying to fill diversity quotas to hire qualified people. This comes as Republicans begin to attack companies that use environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) to factor sustainability into their investment decisions, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, as somehow a threat to the economy.
"In its proxy statement, SVB notes that besides 91% of their board being independent and 45% women, they also have '1 Black,' '1 LGBTQ+' and '2 Veterans,'" wrote Kessler. "I’m not saying 12 white men would have avoided this mess, but the company may have been distracted by diversity demands."
On CNN Wednesday, tech reporter Jessica Lessin tore that claim to shreds.
"One thing that you have been vocal about is the way the Wall Street Journal framed why SVB collapsed," said anchor Kaitlan Collins. "We asked every lawmaker today. We hear this out of Washington, which is some of the Republicans blaming them for their, you know, ESG-type policies, DEI, diversity statements saying — essentially they were focusing on stuff like that instead of managing risk and that. Can you tell us essentially your pushback on that?"
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"Yes," said Lessin. "No, look, I mean, I spent eight years at the Wall Street Journal, which is why this issue is close to my heart. Of course, it was an opinion piece, not something from the newsroom. For any commentator to say that having non-white men on the board of Silicon Valley Bank is any way contributed to this, I think it's not informed, frankly. You can set aside, you know, their lack of appreciation for diversity. But I think it's not informed. And to imply, by issuing a proxy statement, they were 'distracted' — I am pretty sure companies are required to issue such disclosures."
"It's basically nonsense," said Lessin. "But I do think it had to be called out, because it actually struck me as quite shocking that they would say that."
Watch the video below or at this link.
Jessica Lessin says WSJ's claims diversity killed SVB are "nonsense" www.youtube.com