BlackRock just held a town hall to roll out its diversity and inclusion strategy after recent complaints. Here are all the details.
- BlackRock outlined its diversity and inclusion strategy at a company town hall on Tuesday.
- It laid out a timeline for implementing the changes over the next three years.
- Former employees have recently said they encountered discrimination working at BlackRock.
BlackRock plans to start tying exec bonuses to diversity initiatives as part of a series of changes that will roll out in the next three years across the world's biggest asset manager.
BlackRock is not alone in the broader asset-management industry in making high-profile pushes on diversity and inclusion. But recent allegations from former employees that they encountered discrimination and harassment while working there have shone a spotlight on the firm.
The $8.7 trillion money manager detailed the comp changes and other steps it will take on diversity and inclusion in a town hall with employees on Tuesday.
BlackRock wants to solidify a company-wide diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy this year. It is looking to boost diversity on executive committees and in managing director roles by next year, and to include DEI strategy in its sales and investment teams' talks with clients.
The firm is also looking to launch products aimed at under-served communities by 2023 and boost spending on vendors with diverse backgrounds.
"We've always had a strategy. It was just a matter of, how do we amplify, and make more advances? Because our goal is essentially to be best in class in this space. And we know that that will happen over time, not overnight," Michelle Gadsden-Williams, the firm's global head of diversity, equity, and inclusion, told Insider on Tuesday.
The new steps and plans BlackRock laid out in its presentation include:
- More strongly linking leaders' bonuses to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Rewarding managers as they make progress in retaining employees from under-represented backgrounds and aiding in career development
- Investing in minority-owned companies and communities that are under-served
- Cutting back on hiring teams' biases that can be present throughout hiring processes
- Interacting with clients on how they are handling their own human capital management efforts through the firm's investment stewardship team
Former employees in recent weeks have publicly detailed complaints that they were harassed and discriminated against while they worked at BlackRock, prompting a response from supporters online.
A former analyst who left the firm in 2019, Essma Bengabsia, said employees harassed her and made racist comments to her based on her race, sex, and religion as an American Arab Muslim woman. Mugi Nguyai, who is Kenyan, left his role as an analyst at BlackRock last year and said he also encountered harassment and discrimination.
A spokesperson for BlackRock has said the firm investigated, but did not find that Bengabsia had been the subject of discrimination or harassment, and declined to comment on Nguyai's allegations beyond a February memo broadly addressing reports online.
Last week, BlackRock's global head of human resources, Manish Mehta, told employees in a company memo seen by Insider that the firm was taking additional steps to improve how it handles employee complaints.
BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink, President Rob Kapito, and other members of the global executive committee, human resources, and employee networks consulted on the strategy, Gadsden-Williams said in an interview.
"I really wanted to get that next-generation perspective in there as well," she said. "So I went from the top all the way through, just to make sure that we had all voices represented."
Last summer, as corporate America looked to recommit themselves to improving diversity in the wake of national protests against police violence that disproportionately targets people of color, Fink said the firm was committed to promoting racial equity and inclusion.
"BlackRock should reflect the rich diversity of our clients. So, change must start here at BlackRock, and we know we have a great deal of work to do," he said in a public June 22 LinkedIn post that reflected a memo to employees.
The firm's goal by 2024 is to double the representation of its Black senior leaders and increase overall representation by 30%, the memo said. Just 3% of its senior leaders, considered employees at the director level and above, and 5% of its overall US workforce are Black.
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