After launching a three-month review of allegations of sexism, sexual harassment, and racism at the firm, BlackRock’s Larry Fink shared plans on moving forward in a letter to employees, which he sent out on Thursday morning.
The asset manager, with $9 trillion in assets under management, will undertake “360° reviews” of roughly 25 of its senior leaders, and establish a disciplinary oversight committee, among other measures, according to the letter.
“It is essential that we have a culture at BlackRock where every employee feels welcomed, included, and safe,” Fink wrote. “That is why it was so disturbing earlier this year to read stories of inappropriate or intolerant behavior recounted by former employees.”
Institutional Investor reported in March that some BlackRock employees said they experienced sexual harassment, which included being asked what type of pornography they prefer and being propositioned by their bosses. Other Black and Latinx employees said they were called aggressive and unenthusiastic about their work, and that they believed were given poor performance evaluations based on these perceptions.
II's reporting at that time was based on a nine-month-long investigation.
Paul, Weiss, the law firm BlackRock hired in March to probe these claims, spoke with over 50 current and former employees and reviewed BlackRock’s files on incidents at the firm, including some that were reported in the media. The firm also reviewed BlackRock’s policies and the initiatives it had previously announced.
“In total, the review highlighted many things we can be proud of, but it also highlighted things I wasn’t happy about,” Fink wrote. “These included instances where people at BlackRock had experiences that did not meet what we all should expect of BlackRock. The review reinforced the value of the steps we have previously announced, but also helped us identify areas where we can continue to improve and do more.”
Fink also wrote that the reviews of senior executives will ensure that BlackRock has a “clear picture of how the conduct of each of our senior leaders impacts everyone we work with.”
According to the memo on the Paul, Weiss review, BlackRock will also establish a disciplinary committee that will ensure that BlackRock’s policies are fairly applied to all employees. The firm is also providing managers with training on how to address misconduct, and said it will hold those managers accountable “for ensuring an inclusive and respectful environment.”
BlackRock also plans to make changes to its HR reporting process. This includes allowing employees to bring a fellow worker as a “support person” to accompany them in investigation-related meetings — a practice that was already in place in some regions.
In March, the firm announced that it would offer follow-up meetings to employees who have raised workplace concerns for a period of two years following the investigation. The firm is now adding to that: if an employee requests it, the firm will help them navigate “a potential change in reporting lines or a potential transfer to another team.”
BlackRock said it is increasing the availability of information and spaces to raise concerns about the workplace. It will offer ongoing training to the investigations team, which it established earlier this year.
Finally, BlackRock plans to implement “a more robust and consistent exit interview program” for departing employees, which will involve analyzing and sharing the information gleaned with senior leaders to identify areas of improvement.
“I am encouraged by the process and the steps we are taking because I believe they will make us better going forward,” Fink wrote.