'Bank of UnAmerica': Banking Giant Accused of Going 'Full Woke' by Consumer Group

June 9, 2023

A national ad campaign targeting Bank of America over its politicized business policies says the bank has gone "full woke," pointing to the bank's race-based home financing and decision to cut off loans to gun manufacturers and fossil fuel industries.

Consumers' Research, a consumer advocacy group, launched the "Bank of UnAmerica" campaign this week with nationwide TV ads, a Times Square billboard, and mobile advertisements in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Miami, and other cities.

The ads accuse Bank of America of "using a social score system straight out of China's playbook" by "building a system to track your carbon emissions and monitor your driving," "coming after your Second Amendment rights," and "favoring certain home buyers based on their race."

"We are putting Bank of America on notice. CEO Brian Moynihan has wielded the United States' second-largest bank like a political club," said Consumers' Research executive director Will Hild. "Under his watch, the bank has brought China's social credit system to American soil by using arbitrary [environmental, social, and corporate governance] metrics to potentially lock individuals and businesses out of key banking services."

Hild said the bank has gone "full woke, forcing employees to endure [diversity, equity, and inclusion] training that denigrated the United States as racist and challenged employees to confront their 'White Privilege.'"

The campaign comes as Moynihan has defended the company's embrace of progressive environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) policies against criticism from Republicans. The bank is one of the largest issuers of ESG bonds in the United States.

"I've sometimes been surprised to be asked—including at congressional hearings—'Are you a capitalist?'" wrote Moynihan in the bank's annual report in March. "You might also find the question unusual. Of course, I answered, 'Yes.'"

Bank of America announced last year that it would work toward "net-zero greenhouse gas emissions" by pressuring borrowers in the "auto manufacturing, energy, and power generation" industries to reduce their emissions or lose out on loans. The bank said in 2018 that it would stop doing business with gunmakers that manufacture certain firearms, such as the AR-15.

Last year, Bank of America also rolled out a zero-interest loan program for home buyers in "majority-minority neighborhood[s]," which critics slammed as race-based lending.

The policies have faced criticism from Republicans. Last September, then-senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) warned Moynihan and other bank CEOs against "embracing a liberal ESG agenda that harms America."

The ads follow a similar Consumers' Research campaign against investment firm BlackRock, which has also been a major proponent of ESG. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) on Tuesday introduced legislation to prohibit BlackRock and other firms from using federal retirement fund holdings for ESG investments.