As conservatives across the country question why large multinational corporations and brands appear to be lurching left, it’s worth recalling what BlackRock CEO Larry Fink had to say about “Environmental, Social, and Government standards” (ESG) investing.
A viral clip from a 2017 New York Times panel discussion shows Fink claiming that his investment firm forces companies to change their behavior on “diverse” recruiting and talent development.
“You have to force behaviors, and at BlackRock we are forcing behaviors,” Fink said. “54% of the incoming class [at BlackRock] are women. We added four more points in terms of diverse employment this year.”
“What we’re doing internally is if you don’t achieve these levels of impact, your compensation could be impacted,” he said.
“If you don’t force behaviors, whether its gender or race, or just any way you want to say the composition of your team, you’re going to be impacted,” he added.
The other panelist, former CEO of American Express Kenneth Chenault, agreed with Fink, saying “we’re doing the same thing.”
“I’m just as much shocked as Ken is that we have not seen more opportunities, and we’re going to have to force change,” Fink said.
BlackRock, one of the world’s largest investment and asset management companies with a 2022 revenue of over $17 billion, has positioned itself as an industry leader in ESG.
ESG investing is a form of “stakeholder capitalism,” which prioritizes certain “stakeholder” initiatives such as fighting climate change and championing diversity, equity and inclusion policies over maximizing profitable returns to clients.
“Capitalism has the power to shape the society and act as a powerful catalyst for change,” Fink said in a 2022 open letter to BlackRock’s clients.
“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not ‘woke,'” he said. “It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper.”
The 2017 clip from the “DealBook 2017” panel discussion with New York Times financial columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin appears to conflict with Fink’s 2022 open letter assurances, however.
Fink states that his policies are not driven by a “social or ideological agenda,” though Fink said to Sorkin in the panel discussion that BlackRock threatens “impacts” to compensation if companies do not comply with their diversity initiatives.
Large companies that do not align themselves with Fink and BlackRock’s ESG standards risk losing out on billions of dollars in investment. Which might explain why almost every publicly traded company has wrapped its marketing materials in rainbows for the month of June.