“The world’s largest asset owner and CEO of BlackRock, Larry Fink, released a letter to S&P 500 CEOs calling for corporations to act with social responsibility and to see beyond short-term gains. Public response to the letter has been mixed, while some find a billionaire’s plan to combat inequality to be both ironic and hollow, many hope this call-to-action will continue to gain traction.
“We are seeing a paradox of high returns and high anxiety. Since the financial crisis, those with capital have reaped enormous benefits,” wrote Fink, while noting that low wage growth and failing retirement systems have kept the eroding middle class from receiving the benefits of these gains. “Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers and the communities in which they operate.”
While it is not clear what concrete moves BlackRock is willing to take, they do seem to mean business: “In the $1.7 trillion in active funds we manage, BlackRock can choose to sell the securities of a company if we are doubtful about its strategic direction or long-term growth,” wrote Fink, adding that BlackRock is in the process of growing its investment stewardship team which works with index investors to build business plans that harness long term goals.”