Global lending firm Silicon Valley Bank, which has mainly served tech companies and venture capital firms, collapsed last week after 40 years in business, and now some are blaming the company's recent "woke" business practices for its demise.
On Friday, the California Department of Financial Protection announced that SVB, based in Santa Clara, California, had been shut down after SVB's parent company, SVB Financial Group, admitted it had taken a $1.8-billion hit after dumping $21 billion in securities. The possibility of financial insolvency spooked investors and account-holders, prompting a run at the bank.
While some have blamed the collapse on volatile bond markets and rising interest rates, others — including Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus — have claimed that the company became too focused on "woke" issues, like LGBTQ+ activism and environmental alarmism, rather than their shareholders.
"[T]hese banks are badly run because everybody is focused on diversity and all of the woke issues and not concentrating on the one thing they should, which is, shareholder returns," Marcus said in an interview with Fox News' Neil Cavuto on Saturday.
"Instead of protecting the shareholders and their employees, they are more concerned about the social policies," Marcus added, "and I think [SVB is] probably a badly run bank."
A quick scan through SVB's social media posts supports Marcus' assertion. As recently as this month, just days before it went into receivership with the FDIC, SVB discussed "decarbonization" and the importance of "women entrepreneurs."
Perhaps even more concerning, SVB's chief risk officer in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Jay Ersapah, spent much of her time discussing the various sexual orientations of SVB employees rather than evaluating risk.
"As a queer person of color and a first-generation immigrant from a working-class background, there were not many role models for me to ‘see’ growing up," said Ersapah, whose office is based in the U.K. and whose now-defunct LinkedIn page apparently lists her as a "Passionate DEI advocate."
Outstanding, a company which compiles lists of "LGBTQ+ business leaders and allies who are breaking down barriers and creating more inclusive workplaces across the world," included Ersapah as one of its top 100 LGTBQ Future Leaders of 2022.
"As Co-Chair of EMEA Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) LGBTQ+ network, Jay is a leading figure for the bank’s awareness activities including being an panelist at the SVB’s Global Pride townhall to share her experiences as a lesbian of color, moderating SVB’s EMEA Pride townhall and was instrumental in initiating the organization's first ever global 'safe space catch-up', supporting employees in sharing their experiences of coming out," Outstanding's feature on Ersapah read in part.
Though SVB certainly participated in many woke programs and seemed to make some hires based on diversity, equity, and inclusion, Home Depot's Marcus does not blame the bank's collapse entirely on woke activism. Marcus also places some of the blame on the decisions of the Biden administration.
"I think that the system, that the administration has pushed many of these banks into [being] more concerned about global warming than they do about shareholder return," Marcus told Fox News.
"And maybe the American people will finally wake up and understand that we're living in very tough times, that, in fact, that a recession may have already started. Who knows? But it doesn't look good," he said.
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