Conservatives seek to hold woke companies accountable with free-speech, religion rankings


Corporate scorecards on issues such as sustainability, racial justice and LGBTQ rights abound on the left, but now conservatives have launched their own index ranking businesses based on their commitment to free speech.

The newly unveiled Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index is billed as the first comprehensive benchmark to measure “corporate respect for religious and ideological diversity in the market, workplace and public square.”

“Ideologically charged business services are bad for everyone, no matter their religious or political views,” said Inspire Investing CEO Robert Netzly, a member of the Viewpoint Diversity Score advisory council.

“By adopting the model policies and strategies we recommend, companies can cement their reputations as tolerant businesses that respect free speech and religious freedom as a standard part of doing business,” he said.

The scorecard was launched last week by Inspire Investing, a Christian investment and technology firm, and the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal foundation known for its work on First Amendment cases.

The index comes with conservatives pushing back on the rise of woke corporations, a phenomenon fueled by scorecards that pressure businesses to adopt progressive stances and policies to improve their rankings.

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“CEOs and business leaders have positions of considerable power. They shouldn’t weaponize their influence or the companies they run to divide Americans or engage in speech censorship or anti-religious bigotry,” said ADF senior counsel Jeremy Tedesco.

The index is focused on industries with the “greatest potential to impact free speech and religious freedom,” including banking, payment processing, cloud services and social media.

The idea is to encourage such companies to “provide viewpoint neutral services,” Mr. Tedesco said.

“People shouldn’t fear that they will be censored online, lose access to their bank accounts, or denied other essential services because of their religious or political views,” he said.

The inaugural grades leave plenty of room for improvement. The average score on respecting religious freedom and ideological diversity was 12%, with computer software companies bringing up the rear at 6%, followed by internet services and retailing at 8%.

The index ranked 50 companies in the Fortune 1000, but only two gave substantive responses to the first-year survey: Paychex and Truist.

“The financial and data services industry (8%) also scored poorly,” the index said. “The lackluster results paint a grim picture of corporate America’s respect for religious and ideological diversity.”

Among the most influential scorecards is the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies based on non-discrimination policies and workplace benefits as well as “social responsibility” and “public commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.”

More than 1,200 companies participated in the HRC’s 2022 index, and 842 earned a 100% ranking, allowing them to promote their status as one of the “Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality.”

Companies that backslide may find themselves publicly shamed.

Last month, the HRC index deducted 25 points from Fox News over its coverage of Florida’s House Bill 1557, the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill barring instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-3.

HRC spokesperson Aryn Fields accused Fox of “sharing misinformation and disinformation about the LGBTQ+ community” in a story that was covered by major outlets including CNN, The Hill, Deadline and Business Insider.


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