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Troy University’s Free Enterprise Scholars program takes aim at ‘woke business’

As the rise of “woke” culture continues to permeate throughout corporate America, a newly launched program at Troy University seeks to help students understand the fundamentals of free enterprise absent divisive political practices.

Troy University’s Manuel H. Johnson Center (MJC) for Political Economy in the Sorrell College of Business recently announced the upcoming launch of its Free Enterprise Scholars program, an effort designed to combat “woke business.”

The program, which is set to launch this fall, was an initiative spearheaded by Dr. Allen Mendenhall, the associate dean of Sorrell College who oversees the Johnson Center.

In detailing the program to Yellowhammer News, Mendenhall outlined the recent uptick in corporate-sponsored social justice initiatives, which he indicated ran counter to advancing society.

“The typical woke corporation runs insincere ad campaigns featuring leftist themes and supporting progressive causes to signal to younger audiences and influence social values,” said Mendenhall. “These gestures are mere substitutes for real reform, and they are antithetical to good business.”

According to the college, the Free Enterprise Scholars will participate in the Johnson Center’s fall and spring reading groups, attend a monthly MJC event, and write an op-ed about free enterprise. Scholars will also attend conferences, partake in field trips, and take a course on the moral foundations of capitalism.

“Companies don’t exist to cure injustice, and by pretending that they do, they cause injustices,” continued Mendenhall. “Business is about buying and selling products, providing goods and services for consumers, and innovating to create things that make people’s lives easier and better. Businesses must efficiently and profitably manage cash flow, optimize their operations, measure risk, invest, plan, and so forth to make sure that products reach consumers as effectively as possible.”

The associate dean took exception to corporations’ utilization of so-called diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and environmental social governance (ESG) campaigns. According to Mendenhall, these initiatives are counterproductive to official business objectives.

“Woke corporations, by contrast, undertake costly and controversial initiatives from DEI to ESG that squander time and resources without yielding any measurable benefit, creating toxic workforce cultures that inhibit productivity, divide employees, foment anger and resentment, and distract from the development of workers’ skills,” he added.

The university advised that the program aimed to secure fundraising from individuals and organizations looking to impact free-market education by supporting scholars’ activities and providing funding for an M. Stanton Evans Annual Lectureship, which features journalists who write about free enterprise.

“Businesses don’t need to ‘go woke’ in their marketing. Businesses already contribute to society,” explained Mendenhall. “They create jobs and give meaning to our lives by providing work and goods. They generate creativity and innovation through competition, yielding new products and technologies that improve our lives and institutions.”

He concluded, “Think about the advances we have seen in the last few decades in the areas of medicine, food, healthcare, science, and technology–all made possible by private industry. Some of these contributions to society may not have been possible if, rather than seeking value creation, companies instead diverted their attention to controversial and divisive social issues about which there is little consensus.”

Dylan Smith is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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