When I see so many self-defeating things today’s corporations do, as a former business professor, I sometimes joke: “What’s wrong with these guys? They should have taken my classes!”
Take the aptly-named Progressive Insurance (who seem never to avoid one progressive cause or another).
Progressive, longtime home of fictional spokesperson “Flo,” announced Tuesday the names of 10 entrepreneurs receiving $25,000 each to purchase a commercial vehicle for their businesses.
Good news, no? Except for this: applications for the Progressive grants were limited strictly to black business people. So a publicly-traded corporation made a decision solely on race.
You didn’t have to take one of my classes to see where this would go.
The day after Progressive’s announcements of the grant recipients, Nathan Roberts and his Freedom Truck Dispatch stole the insurance giant’s public relations thunder.
Roberts filed suit over the grants in a federal district court in Ohio.
You can guess the reason — Roberts is white, and Progressive’s grant program is blatantly discriminatory and, according to Roberts’ lawsuit, illegal.
“Plaintiffs Nathan Roberts and Freedom Truck Dispatch bring suit to enjoin Progressive from continuing these racially discriminatory practices,” said the court filing in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio’s Eastern Division.
The suit further sought to “recover classwide damages on behalf of everyone who has suffered unlawful racial discrimination on account of this program.”
Looks like Flo and Co. have a problem.
That’s especially true since Roberts, a Progressive customer, received a May 24 solicitation to apply for a grant aimed at small businesses seeking a vehicle.
He began filling out the grant application when he discovered he couldn’t qualify since he was white.
The solicitation said research indicated that black business operators had difficulty obtaining capital, so the program was limited to those individuals, according to court documents.
AFL Vice-President Gene Hamilton, a lawyer in the case, indicated Roberts’ suit was broad-reaching against major corporations that bring “racial considerations into every aspect of their business operations, employment practices, and so much more,” the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.
Conservative activists at a 2022 Progressive stockholders meeting in Mayfield Village, Ohio, said Progressive’s hiring practices favoring women and minorities discriminated against white men, according to a report by The Washington Times.
To which Progressive CEO Tricia Griffith responded: “We think it’s very important to have a fair and inclusive work environment, reflect the customers we serve and for our leaders to reflect the people they lead.
“We believe that diversity, equity and inclusion is an important part of our growth and just the right thing to do,” Griffith said.
Try as they might to focus on social and political issues, woke corporations ultimately must deal with customers, left and right.
And on large and small scales, customers and stockholders are responding.
Back to my days as a business professor.
Our university once had a sharp young part-time instructor who was setting up a State Farm Insurance office. Because of good State Farm rates, he convinced me to switch all my insurance to that company.
But then State Farm started telling me on social media to post in my yard banners celebrating homosexuality.
So after a lot of research and effort, I finally found a small, apolitical Midwestern insurance company to provide protection for my vehicles and house, even though the rates were higher.
When I canceled State Farm, I didn’t inform corporate — they obviously wouldn’t care; rather, I addressed my problem to my local agent.
From him, I was taking some real money, not petty cash from headquarters. Enough local agents being hurt and the big guys might get the message.
Ask the Bud Light distributors and retailers.
It’s a long, slow road, but against these corporate politicians, and there may be some sad collateral damage along the way, but it’s what we need to do.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.