Trillium Asset Management, a $2bn firm focusing on socially responsible investing, is asking BlackRock to explain why it doesn’t support corporate shareholder resolutions to protect gay employees when it takes pride in its own policies promoting a diverse workforce.
Bloomberg News reports that the world’s largest money manager should report on the “inconsistency” and outline ways to improve its approach, according to an October 14 shareholder resolution sent to the company by Trillium on behalf of the Astraea Foundation, a group dedicated to advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
Since 2013, BlackRock has voted against eight shareholder proposals asking major U.S. public companies to include language explicitly protecting their LGBT employees from discrimination, according to mutual fund filings data compiled for Trillium by proxy tracker Fund Votes. BlackRock, which oversees $5.1 trillion, says on its website that “inclusion and diversity are key to our success.”
“There’s a real inconsistency between their internal policies and how they’re voting,” said Brianna Murphy, vice president for shareholder advocacy at Trillium. The contrast between the company’s internal and external policies “creates a reputational risk,” Murphy said.
Ed Sweeney, a BlackRock spokesman, said the firm prefers to communicate with companies directly on such issues and will advocate for change regardless of the presence of a shareholder proposal.
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