Silicon Valley Bank might have been able to make good on $74 million promised to customers had it not pledged the money to leftist causes.
According to a new database by the conservative Claremont Institute, the collapsed bank donated or pledged to donate nearly $74 million to groups related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, told The Federalist that SVB’s failure on the heels of its left-wing activism “is yet another indication that SVB was focused on woke virtue signaling instead of protecting their customers’ deposits.”
“Time after time we see the same pattern: companies that are the most concerned with ESG scores and woke politics do the worst jobs serving their customers,” Hild explained. “The rest of corporate America should learn from SVB’s failure now, before they are the next company to make headlines for comically poor management.”
Public reports published on the company’s website offer a window into the bank’s leftist corporate apparatus that prioritized Wall Street’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) standards over its fiduciary duty to shareholders.
Two months after racially charged riots led to the most destructive outbreak of American political upheaval in more than a century, the bank joined the chorus of corporate firms touting their commitment to so-called “diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
“Innovation is global and is touching every aspect of our lives, which is creating even more need for inclusiveness of ideas and approaches,” read a report from August 2020. “We are on a journey committed to increasing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in our workplace, with our partners and across the innovation economy.”
Silicon Valley Bank’s report highlighted the fact that 67 percent of its total workforce checks a “diversity” box. Employees considered “diverse” included “any woman, any person of color, veteran, or person with disability.” When the report was published, half the bank’s senior leadership and 69 percent of board members met the criteria.
That same month, riots erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, wreaking havoc on communities that are still recovering years later.
A Corporate Responsibility Report in 2020 also highlighted SVB’s activist efforts in “supporting” people based on their race and sex.
“In recent months, we’ve expanded our philanthropic giving through corporate donations and employee matching programs,” wrote CEO Greg Becker in an introductory letter attached to the report. “These programs focus on pandemic response, social justice, sustainability and supporting women, Black and Latinx emerging talent and other underrepresented groups.”
According to numbers emphasized in the report’s facts page, SVB spent $2.8 million on “gender parity innovation” and “diverse emerging talent.”
“The Governance Committee’s focus on overall diversity continues in 2021,” read a corporate proxy statement, “including on race/ethnicity and other underrepresented categories.”
In 2021, the bank reiterated its commitment to ESG standards to the World Economic Forum (WEF). “We aim to enable relevant comparisons of our ESG performance with peer companies,” read its index to the global financial institution.
That same year, the bank’s parent company, SVB Financial Group, advertised an $11.2 billion investment in an ambiguous “community benefits plan” pouring money into low-income housing assistance.
“As a leader in the innovation economy, we strive to use our voice and influence to help shape a better future and contribute to progress in our communities,” Becker said in a statement at the time.
Given the company’s obsession with ESG standards, the CEO’s definition of progress in communities is synonymous with the progression of activism. SVB’s 2021 Corporate Responsibility Report outlined more commitments to moving ESG standards forward in a “journey [that] will continue and evolve with the needs of our stakeholders and in alignment with our mission, values, and business strategy.”
The bank’s promotion of ESG also includes climate activism. Last year, the SVB Financial Group pledged $5 billion in loans to support anti-emissions efforts by 2027. The project “aims to support companies that are working to decarbonize the energy and infrastructure industries and hasten the transition to a sustainable, net zero emissions economy.”
SVB fell apart this month after the company made a bad bet on lower interest rates. Now depositors are getting a bailout from federal officials while residents of East Palestine, Ohio worry whether their town is safe to live in.