ESG for Thee, but Not for Me

A sign for BlackRock at their building in New York City (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
Activist investors are pressuring asset managers to vote green, even if it harms the poor.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE B lackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is holding its annual general meeting this week. To help give itself a smooth ride, BlackRock’s leadership has struck a Faustian bargain with the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) activists on its share register. But a smoother ride for BlackRock may mean a rougher ride for many of the companies in which it invests. In coronavirus-speak, in order to acquire immunity for itself, BlackRock opted to become an ESG super-spreader.

At the end of February, a pair of activist investors, Boston Trust Walden and Mercy Investment Services, announced that their “dialogue” with BlackRock had led


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