Why are so many major companies going woke and stiffing shareholders? Because their biggest shareholders are massive funds that push wokeness under the guise of formulas like ESG.
In 2020, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink declared that the climate apocalypse was here and everyone needed to adapt.
A successful low-carbon transition will require a coordinated, international response from governments aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement, including the adoption of carbon pricing globally, which we continue to endorse. Companies and investors have a meaningful role to play in accelerating the low-carbon transition. BlackRock does not see itself as a passive observer in the low-carbon transition. We believe we have a significant responsibility – as a provider of index funds, as a fiduciary, and as a member of society – to play a constructive role in the transition.
Where we have the greatest discretion – in portfolio construction, our active and alternatives platforms, and our approach to risk management – we will employ sustainability across our investment process. Where we serve index clients, we are improving access to sustainable investment options, and we are enhancing our stewardship to make sure that companies in which our clients are invested are managing these risks effectively.
“Stewardship”. What a nice way of saying, we’re going to make sure companies toe our political line.
Now, Larry is a little less enthusiastic about ESG.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said he’s no longer using the term “ESG” (environment, social and governance) because it is being politically “weaponized” and he’s “ashamed” to be part of the debate on the issue.
In a conversation at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Sunday, Fink acknowledged that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to pull $2 billion in assets hurt his firm in 2022, but made clear last year was his company’s best with net flows of $200 billion from U.S. clients.
“I’m ashamed of being part of this conversation,” Fink said.
“When I write these [investment] letters, it was never meant to be a political statement. … They were written to identify longterm issues to our longterm investors,” he told the crowd.
Of course, that’s nonsense. The 2020 letter was pure uncut Colombian-grade advocacy. And one that was being implemented by force.
And even now, Larry is trying to have it both ways.
When pressed on the statement later in the conversation, Fink backtracked.
“I never said I was ashamed,” he said, incorrectly. “I’m not ashamed. I do believe in conscientious capitalism.”
“I’m not going to use the word ESG because it’s been misused by the far left and the far right,” he added.
So while Fink may not long want to use the E word, assume that the same agendas will be rebranded. Fink isn’t unhappy with ESG, but how people are making it look bad.
Fink’s latest dispatch deemphasizes ESG investing — increasingly a politically fraught topic — compared to his most recent annual letters. In fact, the term ESG does not appear anywhere in the letter.
The energy transition concerns are not raised until paragraph 18, and the word “climate” doesn’t appear until the eighth page of the lengthy letter. Even when it does, climate is only used five times.
A little fear is a good thing. BlackRock, like many woke mega-corps, is far too powerful, has too much influence, but now it’s sensing that it might be on the wrong side of a movement/