BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, will continue to push for leftist environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies when it engages with companies and exercises its voting rights — despite backlash from Republicans.
The asset manager says it will make no significant changes to the way it plans on engaging with companies and voting on environmental and social issues next year. Due to this leftist push, BlackRock and its CEO, Larry Fink, have been accused of moving “away from its fiduciary duty in general as an asset manager” and into “political activism.”
Reuters reported that BlackRock said in an annual update on its stewardship policies that it only made a “few changes” and, in fact, will encourage more disclosures on environmental risks:
One was to mention in the policy for the first time its support for enhanced disclosures from companies exposed to risks and opportunities relating to nature.
The other was to encourage companies to release reports on their sustainability performance far enough in advance of their annual meeting so that investors could properly assess the data.
“As a result, we do not anticipate material changes in our voting, and much of our engagement with companies will be continuing the dialogue on material risks and opportunities that we had in 2022,” it said.
This comes as there has been significant pushback from Republicans across the United States, with some state treasurers divesting state funds and calling for Fink to “resign or be removed” from the firm’s leadership team “immediately” over his obsession with pursuing a leftist “political agenda.”
Will Hild, the executive director of Consumers’ Research, an educational nonprofit dedicated to consumer information — who has been critical of BlackRock in the past — slammed the money manager and Fink in a lengthy statement:
BlackRock’s recently released annual stewardship report was an unsurprising reassertion of its steadfast dedication to the ESG farce. The money manager continues to double down, betting hardworking Americans’ investment and pension dollars on CEO Larry Fink’s progressive agenda. However, many have joined efforts to take action against BlackRock’s activism, and the results are beginning to compound. Earlier this month, Florida joined a host of states to divest from the money manager, removing a record $2 billion in assets. And last week in Texas, in response to a subpoena, Texas Senator Brian Hughes forced BlackRock to defend its ESG policies as well as its membership in the controversial global climate change group Climate Action 100. These actions come on the heels of reports that investors are pulling more money from ESG funds than is being added for the first time in a decade. BlackRock is out of step with the markets and the needs of its shareholders. Although claiming in its annual report to invest in accordance with its fiduciary duty, actions clearly do not match words as BlackRock continues to put politics ahead of profits.
As Hild noted, Flordia was one of the most recent states to divest state funds from the asset manager. Earlier this month, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announced the Sunshine State would be pulling $2 billion in assets away from BlackRock due to the state’s opposition to the company’s major push for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) policies.
Last week, the Texas state Senate confronted BlackRock executive Dalia Blass over her company’s membership to the controversial global climate change group Climate Action 100, a coalition of investors that pushes corporations to “take necessary action on climate change” and has spearheaded the left’s ESG movement.
Additionally, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives also launched an anti-trust investigation into the same climate group for working like a “cartel” to “ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change.”