Flunk Free Speech Companies – WSJ

With Elon Musk’s promise to restore free speech on Twitter,

With Disney employees expressing dismay at its political activism in Florida, and Netflix saying it won’t make content choices based on staff members’ political views, now is the time to restore a corporate culture that respects American ideals and freedoms as well as diverse opinions among employees, customers, shareholders and the general public.

But those who value freedom of speech, religious freedom and free markets cannot expect random bursts of encouraging news to foster such a culture. This is especially true given how corporate America has become captive to a left-wing political agenda that many of their employees, customers, and shareholders don’t support, and that many Americans don’t want powerful governments to impose on them. or private actors. .

That’s why our companies, Alliance Defending Freedom, a Supreme Court First Amendment advocate, and Inspire Insight, a Christian fintech company that informs investment decisions, created the Viewpoint Diversity Score Business Index. The annual corporate index gauges corporate America’s respect for religious and ideological diversity in the marketplace, workplace and public square.

The Companies Index includes 50 US Fortune 1000 companies in industries most likely to affect free speech and religious freedom. These include industries that provide essential banking, payment processing and cloud services, or serve as platforms for third-party expression online. Many are household names, like Twitter, Bank of America and Meta,

owner of Facebook and Instagram.

The idea behind the Business Index is the foundation of any healthy and free society: people of different religions, philosophies and beliefs should be free to express themselves and honor their beliefs without fear of punishment and reprisal.

For businesses, the good news is that respecting everyone, regardless of their religious or ideological beliefs, is not only good for society but also good for business. Companies that respect diverse perspectives are better equipped to serve people and communities with diverse values, recruit and retain top talent, and contribute to a public culture that supports liberal democracy and open markets.

The Business Index assesses a company’s social footprint in three categories of activity (marketplace, workplace and public square) to determine its score. Our team uses data from sources including voluntary disclosure companies made via Inspire Insight’s Diversity of Views survey at the end of 2021, as well as company websites, reports, press releases press, conditions of service and political donations. We analyzed this data using a 42-question scoring grid that allowed us to measure the degree of respect for diversity of viewpoints by companies. Each question is worth three points, and a company scoring three out of three points on each question would earn an overall score of 100%, demonstrating that it respects freedom of speech and religious freedom.

The results of our first Business Index reveal that there is still a lot to do. Company scores ranged from 2% to 35%, with an average overall score of 12%. The lackluster results confirm that there is an alarming trend among big business to favor virtue signaling, even at the expense of basic American freedoms.

The results are particularly concerning given that these are some of the largest companies in the United States, serving millions of people and organizations every day. The threat that private companies pose to free speech and religious freedom is real. Individuals and organizations should not have to worry about being censored online, losing access to their bank accounts, or being denied other services because of their religious or political views.

It is alarming that some are applauding and even demanding this kind of private censorship against their perceived political opponents. For example, activists are pressuring major financial institutions to impose political litmus tests on charitable donations. Yet history teaches that censorship inevitably, and often quickly, backfires on its supporters and is used to silence them and the ideas they care about. Politicized affairs are bad for everyone, regardless of their religious or political views.

The corporate index aims to be a check against these threats to freedom. It also offers companies a roadmap of best practices for cultivating a culture that respects the freedom of expression and belief of customers and others, promotes diversity of perspective in the workplace, and reflects a commitment to principles of American democracy.

Businesses can choose to build or tear down the foundations of our pluralistic society. We hope they will make the right choice.

Mr. Tedesco is senior legal counsel and senior vice president of corporate engagement for Alliance Defending Freedom. Mr. Netzly is CEO of Inspire Investing.

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