- BlackRock outlined its diversity and inclusion strategy at a company town hall on Tuesday.
- It described, in new detail, the timeline of its implementing its firm-wide strategy through 2024.
- The firm has faced scrutiny from former employees who say they were discriminated against.
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BlackRock has outlined a new internal diversity and inclusion strategy, including how it will tie executive bonuses to diversity initiatives and launch more products focused on under-served communities.
The $8.7 trillion money manager set out a timeline through 2024 for executing its firm-wide strategy and other plans it has were delivered to employees for the first time on Tuesday, according to a copy of the presentation seen by Insider.
The rollout of new initiatives come as BlackRock is being faced with former employees’ complaints of discrimination and harassment, and pledging to improve its practices.
The firm, the world’s largest asset manager, said that this year it expects to complete goals of creating a global diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy that is consistent across the firm and strengthening the team responsible for those efforts, among other goals.
Next year, it expects to see an improved representation of diverse employees on its executive committees and in key managing director roles and that its diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy is folded into all client discussions that sales and investment teams lead.
BlackRock then said that by 2023, it will launch products focused on under-served communities, and that it will have meaningfully increased what it spends on suppliers of diverse backgrounds, among other goals.
“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 the New York-headquartered firm, 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 was harassed and discriminated against.
A spokesperson for BlackRock had 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 the firm issued last month 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 employees’ complaints when they arise.
BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink, president Rob Kapito, and other members of the global executive committee, human resources, and employee networks were consulted in order to create 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.