OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The co-founder of home improvement giant Home Depot said during an interview on Thursday that as many of the world’s wealthiest CEOs and business leaders met last week in Davos, Switzerland, to pine about ‘woke’ initiatives, they are endangering their companies and the economy by ignoring the “bottom line.”
Bernie Marcus said the emphasis on left-wing causes like climate change risks the economic viability of companies whose leaders should be much more focused on shareholders and employees, Fox Business reported.
“I certainly don’t want to see the woke generation coming up, especially the leaders. I’m watching Davos, what happened in Davos, and they’re recommending spending more money on climate control when we don’t have it,” Marcus said last week on “Varney & Co.”
“We’ve already overspent. And if anything, climate control has caused most of the problems we have today,” he continued.
The comments from Marcus came on the heels of a statement by Blackstone Group CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who said at one point last week at the World Economic Forum confab that the U.S. needed new leaders.
“I think we need to move on. For both parties, it’s a next generation of leaders. I think it’s important that, particularly on the Republican side, we’ve had a series of four losses in a row,” Schwarzman said Wednesday in an interview with Bloomberg. “I think the public has spoken and would like to see a change.”
Marcus did agree that a new crop of leaders could bring fresh perspectives to issues that would be an overall net positive for the economy.
“We need leaders who are basically thinking about the shareholders and their employees, and how well the shareholders are doing and their employees. And I think today it’s all about woke diversity, things that don’t hit the bottom line,” Marcus said, according to Fox Business.
“I can tell you right now, after some meetings I had yesterday, you can’t hire people. They don’t want to work. Nobody wants to work anymore, especially office people,” Marcus added. “They want to work three days a week. It’s incredible. How do you have a recession when you have people that don’t want jobs?”
“They’re entitled, they’re given everything,” he said in describing what he termed the “woke” generation. “The government, in many cases, if you don’t work, you get as much money as when you did work… And so you get this laziness, which you have, and it’s basically a socialistic society.”
He went on to say that around 70 percent of the current active workforce in the U.S. is employed by small businesses. But he added that, according to a recent survey, roughly 60 percent of small business owners “believe they will not be here in the future,” and their businesses will close up.
“Why are they not going to be able to make it? Number one, inflation. Number two, they can’t get people to work,” Marcus said. “Take a pizzeria shop: He can’t find anybody to work. He’s working 12, 14, 18 hours a day, and he may not be able to make it.
“Then you throw in all these absurd rules that you have to follow, and every state has some dumber and dumber [regulations],” the Home Depot co-founder said of “woke” labor laws. “New York, in fact, leads the country in dumb, but maybe not, maybe they’re second to California.”
Some Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have blamed the job market imbalance on actions the government took during the recent pandemic.
“You’ve got a whole lot of people sitting on the sidelines because, frankly, they’re flush at the moment,” McConnell had during a public event in July. “What we’ve got to hope is that once they run out of money, they’ll start concluding it’s better to work than not to work.”
That said, most Republican-led states moved to end outsized unemployment payments and benefits early after businesses complained they could not find enough help as they struggled to reopen. A subsequent study found that states which ended those payments early experienced a rise in employment.