EXCLUSIVE: Former McDonald’s US CEO to fight woke corporate politics

Ed Rensi, the former CEO of McDonald’s US and current chairman of FAT Brands has become the new face against “woke” corporate politics.

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FOX Business has learned that Rensi is partnering with a team of advocacy groups to launch The Boardroom Initiative, a coalition with a mission to push back against US corporations whose boardrooms are becoming too political.

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Rensi, who will serve as executive chairman, will join The Job Creators Network, a conservative advocacy group founded by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, The Free Enterprise Group and Second Vote to defend shareholders and employees from “woke” policies and ensure corporate accountability.

“Corporations have no business being on the right or the left because they represent everybody there and their sole job is to build equity for their investors,” Rensi told FOX Business.

Rensi, who served as McDonald’s US president and CEO from 1991-1997 and is credited with the development of the brand’s iconic chicken McNuggets, tells FOX Business he doesn’t consider himself to be politically active, but wants to act in the best interest of shareholders who he believes should be treated equally. In addition to serving on the McDonald’s board, he has also served on the boards of Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que, Great Wolf Resorts and Snap-on Inc.

The Boardroom Initiative is just one of a handful of advocacy groups that have sprung up in recent years in response to more progressive policies adopted by corporate boardrooms at companies like money management giant BlackRock, which is heavily involved in ESG investing, which conservatives deem to be a “woke” practice. Most of the activism is coming from the left, with progressive groups buying stock in companies and lobbying boards to adopt leftist policies on everything from the environment to gender issues to social justice. The reaction has been a recent floury of activity from conservative activists taking positions in company stocks and attempting to even out the playing field nby pushing right-wing causes.

“Conservative activism is finally beginning to counterbalance progressive activism on issues like identity politics and climate change goals,” said Richard Morrison, a senior fellow at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The Free Enterprise Project currently owns around 2,000 shares of Bank of America and is therefore able to advocate for such changes on behalf of other shareholders. The Boardroom Initiative’s first effort is a shareholder proposal at next week’s Bank of America annual meeting calling for a civil rights audit of the racial equity policies at the company to ensure no race or gender groups are being excluded in the name of equity or anti-racism .

Bank of America is one of several major US corporations to come under fire for implementing training sessions for their employees that incorporate Critical Race Theory (CRT), a framework that involves deconstructing aspects of society to discover systemic racism beneath the surface.

Last year, Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow and director of the initiative on critical race theory at the right-wing think tank Manhattan Institute, reported that Bank of America executive Charles Bowman announced a new “equity” initiative called United in Action, in partnership with the United Way of Central Carolinas. Rufo described the program as promoting ideas such as putting “marginalized” staff above “privileged” staff, learning to “decolonize” their minds “.

Bank of America has refuted this, telling FOX Business the program was run independent of the company and is not part of its training material.

As corporate boardrooms have worked to become more inclusive of minority voices, critics like The Boardroom Initiative worry that inclusivity is coming at the expense of other groups and is taking away from the ultimate job of the board, which to maximize shareholder returns.

“It is not the providence of board members or executives that take shareholder money profit and spend it on social matters”, says Rensi. “Corporations should not get involved in social engineering.”

In addition to the shareholder proposal at Bank of America, The Boardroom Initiative is also looking into claims that insurance company Allstate is denying coverage to companies whose ESG scores don’t meet their standards. An ESG score gauges a company’s performance on ESG issues and exposure to ESG-related risks.

Allstate did not respond to FOX Business request for comment.

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