Home Depot founder doesn’t want to lead ‘Woke Generation’ business

  • Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus is adamant that he doesn’t want to lead the business of an “awakened generation.”
  • He told Fox Business that “nobody wants to work anymore” because of “laziness” and government benefits.
  • Home Depot has distanced itself from Marcus, noting that he has not worked for the company in 20 years.

93-year-old Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus — who retired in 2002 — says he doesn’t want to lead the business of an “awakened generation,” arguing that they would spend money “we don’t have” on climate change mitigation and not focus on the bottom line.

Speaking on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co” on Thursday, Marcus — who is no longer involved with the company on a day-to-day basis — said, “I certainly don’t want to see a woke generation coming in, especially the leaders .”

He said he was watching the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos “and they’re recommending that more money be spent on climate control when we don’t have it. We’ve already spent too much. And if anything, climate control has caused most of the problems we have today.”

Marcus did not clarify what he meant. Europe’s energy crisis stemmed largely from its reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

“We need leaders who fundamentally think about shareholders and their employees,” Marcus added. “And I think today it’s all about awakened diversity, things that don’t hit the mark.” Marcus provided little evidence for these claims.

A 2020 report by consulting giant McKinsey & Company actually found that companies that have more diverse leadership are more likely to report higher profitability.

Marcus, who was a major donor to Donald Trump’s 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, also spoke about the job market, saying people “don’t want to work.”

“You can’t hire people,” he said. “No one wants to work anymore, especially office people.”

Marcus said the reason people didn’t want to work was because they were “entitled, they gave them everything,” adding that government unemployment benefits were forcing people to stay at home.

“So you have this laziness … and it’s basically a socialist society,” he said. Marcus also said people want to work “three days a week,” possibly referring to the rise in demand for flexible working during the pandemic, as well as the recent push for a four-day work week.

Marcus made similar comments in an interview with the Financial Times in December.

The mantra “no one wants to work anymore” has taken off during the pandemic, and some bosses are using the phrase as a scapegoat for struggling to recruit staff. Workers, on the other hand, say that low wages, poor benefits and poor working conditions are the reason why they change jobs and wait for better offers.

The pandemic has caused a big change in the way people think about work. Office workers have realized the benefits of telecommuting and flexible working hours, especially for those with caring responsibilities. Staff in low-paying, customer-facing positions, such as fast-food restaurants and cleaning, were at increased risk of contracting COVID. People have reassessed what they want from their careers, and some have used the pandemic as an opportunity to retrain for new roles.

All of this has caused US smoking cessation rates to reach record levels in 2021, although levels are slowly falling.

The civilian labor force participation rate — the share of the working-age population that is employed or actively looking for work — fell sharply at the start of the pandemic, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although still below pre-pandemic levels, the participation rate increased from a low of 60.1% in April 2021 to 62.3% in December 2022.

BLS data shows that nonfarm payrolls reached a record high of 11.86 million in March 2022, but have since fallen to 10.46 million in November.

“How do you have a recession when you have people who don’t want jobs?” Marcus said during an interview Thursday. “There are plenty of jobs out there.”

“Bernie Marcus retired from Home Depot over 20 years ago and does not speak for the company,” Home Depot said in a statement to Insider.

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