BlackRock has retained outside law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct a review following reporting by Institutional Investor and other news outlets on incidents of discrimination and harassment at the firm.
BlackRock has hired the law firm to provide recommendations on how “we might further enhance our processes and procedures.” BlackRock is also establishing a new investigations team, according to a letter seen by Institutional Investor that chief executive officer Larry Fink sent to employees.
On Monday, Institutional Investor reported that twelve former and current employees said they experienced sexual harassment and racial discrimination at the firm.
“Like you, I have been deeply disturbed by the series of recent reports related to employee misconduct at BlackRock,” Fink’s letter said. “Incidents we’ve read about today and in recent weeks vary widely, but what they all have in common is that they should not happen at BlackRock.”
He added that “it should be crystal clear to everyone: if you are aware of misconduct or a violation of our company’s code of conduct, we want to know about it.”
Since the summer of 2020, BlackRock and Fink himself have been vocal about the need for diversity in the asset management business, calling on fellow CEOs to address race and diversity at work.
In February, former employee Essma Bengabsia published an accounting of her experiences of being “sexually harassed and discriminated against on the grounds of my race, religion, and gender at BlackRock.”
Soon after, she and Mugi Ngyuai published an open letter asking BlackRock to address the “systemic discrimination that under-represented groups continue to face” there.
Similarly, on January 27, Brittanie McGee, a Black woman who had worked at BlackRock from 2014 through 2020, filed a lawsuit against the firm, alleging that it had discriminated against and underpaid her.
The three echoed what a chorus of anonymous sources, including past and present employees, had shared with Institutional Investor about their experiences at the firm.
Some reported being asked uncomfortable questions — like what kind of pornography or underwear they prefer — while others said they had been propositioned by their bosses. Black and Latinx employees recounted being labeled as aggressive and unenthusiastic, despite their work being satisfactory.
A spokesperson for BlackRock did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Monday.
In response to Institutional Investor’s previous reporting, a spokesperson said: “In recent months, BlackRock has taken a series of actions to enhance how we investigate reports of misconduct, and we outlined a comprehensive strategy to drive the behavioral changes necessary to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do,” adding that the firm encourages current or former employees to report misconduct so it can “investigate and take action when necessary.”