BlackRock Vies for Corporate Hall of Shame

BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset management firm, has been nominated for the 2022 Corporate Hall of Shame Our friends at Corporate Accountability.

BlackRock has almost $10 trillion in assets under management. That’s more than the GDP of every country in the world except For the United States and China. BlackRock is a major shareholder in a wide range global industries, including oil and gas, technology and retail, big banks and healthcare, as well as weapons manufacturing and many other areas. This makes BlackRock one the most influential corporate actors on the planet and has an impact on every aspect of our lives.

BlackRock’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, Larry Fink, has attempted To make the firm more sensitive to global issues like climate change, racismpublic health. However, BlackRock’s investment activity and governance practices drive business operations that directly harm Black and Indigenous communities and people of color around the world. The firm supports the fossil fuel sector to the tune $260 billion it in investments in corporations that are driving our climate catastrophe. It has. nearly $6 billion An astounding amount of money was invested in civilian gun manufacturers, retailers, and an astonishing $36 billion invested in military weapons’ companies. Larry Fink is a major donor The New York City Police Foundation supplies surveillance technology and equipment to a New York Police Department that has been targeting Black and Brown communities in New York City for decades.

For all these reasons and more, BlackRock has been nominated to join Corporate Accountability’s Corporate Hall of Shame – and we believe it is an extremely strong candidate for entry.

Climate Catastrophe

BlackRock is one of the world’s biggest corporate drivers of climate chaos and ecocide. BlackRock is not only a major cause of global climate chaos and ecocide due to its huge fossil fuel investments. But its wishy-washy climate policies and support for fake climate solutions do little to address the root causes.

BlackRock is responsible for one of the largest insurance companies in the world. world’s biggest fossil fuel portfolios. It is a Top owner of the world’s most powerful and most polluting oil and gas corporations – from ExxonMobil to Chevron From and ConocoPhillips To Marathon Petroleum. It led a group of investors that recently plowed $15.5 billion into Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil and gas company – and one of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel companies.

BlackRock also remains one of the world’s biggest investors in the coal sector. Insurance and investment in the coal industry is shrinking, BlackRock recently plunged greater than $34 billion into companies developing new coal assets. BlackRock is still the largest institutional investor of coal, with approximately $109 billion The industry has received significant investment. This includes the $1.2 billion BlackRock invested in Adani Group’s dirty coal mine project Over 100 companies in Australia have resisted investing due to public pressure. BlackRock is not the only one!

Simply put, BlackRock is one of the few corporate actors with more ownership in fossil fuels or extractive industries than BlackRock.

This means that BlackRock is able to hold these industries accountable for the damage they do. But is this power being used for good? Not even close.

According to Majority Action, BlackRock is the preferred shareholder advocacy group. almost always votes with management in the “climate-critical” industries it invests in. BlackRock actively invested between 2015 and 2019. opposed or passively abstained on over 80% of climate-related shareholder motions at FTSE 100 and S&P 500 fossil fuel companies.

BlackRock has been trying to present itself on climate issues for many years. The firm will be a global leader in climate change research by 2021. declared its support for “the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.” BlackRock CEO Larry Fink wrote an open letter calling on companies “to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net-zero economy.”

All of this is not enough. Many believe that corporate netzero promises are not enough. false climate solutions This allows firms like BlackRock, to continue investing heavily in fossil fuel operations. Even one of BlackRock’s own executives called out The firm was accused of greenwashing. BlackRock made gestures about climate issues at least.

BlackRock appears to be reversing course even on the minor shifts. According to the firm, it would vote for fewer climate shareholder provisions It will be 2022, not 2021. In Larry Fink’s annual letter this year, he stated that“ [BlackRock] focuses on sustainability not because we’re environmentalists, but because we are capitalists and fiduciaries to our clients.” Fink goes on to write that BlackRock “will not support policies that are good for society but bad for BlackRock.” He also said that businesses “cannot be the climate police.”

In addition to BlackRock’s extensive fossil fuel portfolio, its governance structure is riddled With oil and gas interests. BlackRock directors are all connected to the fossil fuel industry. Murry Gerber, who has been BlackRock’s Lead Independent Director since 2017 and part of the Board since 2000. Gerber was a top executive at EQT, where he oversaw the rise of the US fracking boom from 1998 to 2021. He earned tens and millions. Since 2012 he’s also been a director of Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oil field service corporations.

Gerber also took advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to make huge profits from fossil fuels. After Halliburton’s share price crashed, Gerber bought 505,763 shares from Halliburton. This was a staggering amount. 732% increase in Gerber’s personal ownership of Halliburton’s oil stock. Since then, he’s raked in millions with Halliburton’s share price skyrocketing back up.

Gerber also took advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic in order to make huge profits from fossil fuels. After Halliburton’s share price crashed, Gerber bought 505,763 shares from Halliburton. This was a staggering amount. 732% increase in Gerber’s personal ownership of Halliburton’s oil stock. Since then, he’s raked in millions with Hallburton’s share price skyrocketing back up.

With oil and gas executives like Gerber leading BlackRock’s board, it’s no wonder the company stays so wedded to the fossil fuel industry.

BlackRock is also contributing to climate injustice in the world by investing in companies that threaten the climate. Indigenous communities on their lands by industrial activity and intimidation, the abuse of Indigenous territorial right, displacement of communities from their ancestral home, and other forms of intimidation. BlackRock is also the largest investor Companies that are linked to deforestation around the globe. Although BlackRock has stated that it will take steps to reduce deforestation, it has not given much. indication of plans to address Indigenous Rights.

BlackRock is actively contributing to the perpetuation of the global climate crisis, which may be the greatest existential crisis facing humanity. With assets equivalent to being the world’s third-largest BlackRock has the power and authority to drive the world’s economy. duty to lead on a just climate transition. BlackRock, with its large fossil fuel portfolio and insufficient climate action, may be doing more than any other corporate player to continue to drive this crisis.

Police Power Support

While BlackRock is financing the fossil fuel industry whose operations are harming frontline communities around the world, CEO Larry Fink has also been supporting the police as they target protesters and BIPOC communities in BlackRock’s home city of New York.

Larry Fink served as the co-chair of the New York City Police Foundation’s annual gala for four years beginning in 2016, and he was honored by the foundation in 2015. Fink has also donated The NYC Police Foundation has donated millions of dollars to the New York Police Department for surveillance equipment, mounted horses and other policing equipment. The NYPD will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020. used Excessive force used to crackdown on racial justice protesters following George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police. The NYPD’s handling of the protests in 2019 was the subject of a lawsuit filed by the State of New York. The suit claims that the New York City Police Department exhibited “a pattern of using excessive force and making false arrests against New Yorkers during peaceful protests.”

BlackRock’s support of police power in the United States extends far beyond just New York City. As Code Pink It has reportedBlackRock is Axon’s largest shareholder. Axon is a national supplier to police departments of surveillance software, tasers, and body cameras. BlackRock is a shareholder in Axon. 10.4% of Axon’s stock, which currently amounts to over $600 million invested in the company. Matthew McBrady, the former Chief Investment Officer of BlackRock, is also the largest shareholder. served Axon Board Member since 2016.

Axon has agreements with most major American cities’ police departments. The company’s flagship products are a series of tasers that are sold to civilians, police, and the military. The company claims the weapon is safer than guns that police can use in the field. A 2019 version is available. Reuters report “documented a total of at least 1,081 U.S. deaths following use of Tasers” in the US since they became widely popular with police departments in the early 2000s. Another report from USA Today found that “[f]our of five cases that ended in death” that involved tasers “began as calls for nonviolent incidents, and 84% were unarmed.” In the cases where the race of the victim was reported, the majority Black or Latino.

However, the NYPD stockpiled Axon will be releasing brand new X26p tasers in 2020. Los Angeles Police Department also followed the example of Axon in 2021, purchasing 5,260 Taser-7 energy weapons from Axon. This made the LAPD the force equipped with the weapon. largest US energy weapon deployment The company has also signed agreements to supply hundreds to major cities with tasers since 2018. including Chicago, San JoseTucson, St. Louis, Pittsburgh. BlackRock has directly benefited from Axon’s 220% growth The last five years.

BlackRock is also the largest investor in gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, with an 8.3% stake The company. Smith & Wesson guns or ammunition are used Police departments in New York City and Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, or elsewhere in the United States. Chicago. The company also manufactures assault weapons and restraints that are sold to police departments.

Manufacturers of weapons

BlackRock not only makes a profit from the bloated police budgets but also supports many companies whose products have been linked to gun violence in the United States, endless war and occupation of countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. BlackRock is a major investor of many gun and weapon manufacturers that sell weapons that kill as many people as possible. These consequences can be hard to ignore.

As we reported earlier this month, BlackRock is the largest shareholder in weapons manufacturer Sturm, Ruger, & Company, owning 15.9% of shares, valued at nearly $200 million. According to Palestinian reports the gun used in the murder of Al-Jazeera journalist Shireen Abou Akleh was an Sturm Ruger Mini-semi Automatic 14 rifle.

BlackRock has always tried to distance itself form the gun industry and the violence that it perpetuates. For example, in 2018’s Parkland massacre, the shooter was killed. used a Smith & Wesson rifle, BlackRock issued a statement that announced an internal policy change to allow clients to choose not to invest in gun manufacturers or retailers, as well as a statement claiming that it would “[engage] with firearms manufacturers and retailers in which our clients are invested regarding business policies and practices.”

However, Axios reports BlackRock did not make any changes at the companies it was trying to engage after this statement. BlackRock consistently supported gun manufacturer leadership with few exceptions and was the deciding vote in rejecting an attempt to pass a comprehensive human rights resolution at Smith & Wesson. The resolution, which was proposed by Catholic nuns failed to receive 44% of the shareholders vote.

BlackRock’s investments in weapons manufacturers also equip and profit from war machines across the world that create massive refugee crises. BlackRock attempted to distance itself from any harm that its business operations may cause. announced A new partnership was formed with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), to aid refugees displaced by war in Ukraine or Afghanistan. However, as Code Pink reportsBlackRock has large investments in some of world’s largest weapons producers, who directly benefit from arms sales linked to many of the conflicts that are causing refugee crises.

BlackRock has invested tens of millions in top military contractors in the United States. It is a top beneficial holder Lockheed Martin (6.4%), Boeing (5.2%), General Dynamics (3.94%), Northrop Grumman (5.5%) Raytheon (6.6%). Governors and executives at BlackRock also play interdependent roles with these defense companies. For example, Boeing director Stayce D. Harris is also a director of BlackRock’s Fixed Income Mutual Funds.

BlackRock granted the IRC’s Supporting Afghan Financial Empowerment (SAFE) initiative with $500,000. This donation amounts to a very small fraction of the funds BlackRock invested in the five largest US military contractors. Although the firm attempts to attract positive attention through modest charitable giving, BlackRock continues its profit from the defense industry and the violence it products are linked to around the globe.

BlackRock also has hundreds of millions in shares in a number of smaller gun- and weapons manufacturers. A few examples include:

  • Vista Outdoors, which sells You can order ammunition, primers, or powder directly from the manufacturer. BlackRock is a 15.26% Vista, a stake of $307.7 Million at the time the most recent filing.
  • Olin Corporation, a manufacturer and distributor of chemical products and ammunition that also owns Winchester AmmunitionThe largest manufacturer of ammunition in small caliber for the United States military. BlackRock owns 10.4% of Olin – an $825.8 Million stake at the time.
  • Ammo IncWhich? supplies Ammunition is available to the US military and police, and is also available in a leading Manufacturer of armor piercing shots BlackRock owns 11.26% Ammo, a stake worth $27.4million at the time of the latest filing
  • National Presto IndustriesThe owner of AMTEC, the “largest volume producer of 40mm Grenade Ammunition and Fuzing in the world” along with several other explosives manufacturers. BlackRock owns 12.52% of National Presto is a stake worth $67.9 Million at the time of the latest filing.

BlackRock also owns major gun and ammunition retailers such as Big 5 Sporting Goods.6.11%) and Sportsman Warehouse Holdings (6.78%).

Final Argument

As the world’s Top asset manager, BlackRock is a majority investor in almost every major publicly-traded company. It profits from those companies’ operations and, as a major shareholder, bears significant responsibility for their governance and the impacts of their operations across the world.

While we’ve only examined a few areas of the shameful impacts of BlackRock’s business operations, there are many more examples we could look at, ranging from Big Tech hate profiteers to union-busting corporations … and many more. Where there is corporate-driven harm going on, you’ll almost always find BlackRock.

BlackRock is also a beneficial shareholder of the vast majority of U.S.-based Hall of Shame nominees. BlackRock, for example, owns 6.9% Facebook6.45% Coca Cola5.7% Amazon6.4% LockHeed Martin, 6% Philip Morris, and 6.5% Chevron.

For all these reasons and more, we believe BlackRock is an excellent candidate to enter Corporate Accountability’s Corporate Hall of Shame in 2022. Vote for BlackRock here!