This former tech CEO takes down woke capitalism but misses the point on wokeness

It probably goes without saying that Jamie Dimon was doing allyship wrong. In the days just after George Floyd’s murder by police in 2020, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase tweeted a photo of himself taking a knee, Colin Kaepernick-style, in front of an open bank vault. The image might have made more sense were Dimon on both knees, facing the vault, ecstatic in prayer for a robust Q3. Instead, he was facing away from it, his face a latex mask of solemn concern, animated by his (and, ostensibly, JPMorgan Chase’s) urgent, nascent commitment to inclusion.

Obviously, this macabre performance was a flop for many reasons. A New York Times report about blatant racism at JPMorgan Chase the previous year is only one among them. But while just about anyone could sense the deep-space emptiness of Dimon’s gesture, it’s fascinating to read a thorough unpacking of this kind of behavior from someone who occupies a neighboring tier of the financial stratosphere—specifically, the founder of a $7 billion biopharma company.

Vivek Ramaswamy, the brains behind Roivant Sciences, is a self-proclaimed class traitor. Back in January 2021, he resigned as CEO from his thriving company, citing a desire to speak freely about the climate that produced Dimon’s photo op, with no repercussions for Roivant. (He has since become a regular op-ed writer for the Wall Street Journal and a Fox News contributor.) This pivot toward punditry has now produced Woke, Inc., a just-released book that harnesses its author’s insider perspective to explain why corporations that pick up social justice causes like TikTok dances are not merely tacky, but actively harmful for society. The book is brimming with insights about the current state of America, although not all of them are intentional.

Ramaswamy sees the broad corporate outpouring of support toward social justice last summer as a pivotal example of “stakeholder capitalism.” This term, used interchangeably throughout the book with “woke capitalism,” represents the idea that each corporation isn’t beholden merely to its shareholders, but rather to everyone who might be indirectly affected by its actions or inaction. This concept became officially enshrined as corporate status quo with Fortune’s fall 2019 cover story, about the adoption of stakeholder capitalism by Business Roundtable, an association of nearly 200 VIP CEOs.


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