BlackRock just issued its 2021 Stewardship Report and it’s an eye-opener, particularly when it comes to the giant asset manager’s support of shareholder proposals during the 2020-2021 proxy year. Here are some of the highlights:
– BlackRock supported 35% of shareholder proposals, compared to 17% the previous year. On ESG-related topics, BlackRock supported 64% of Environmental proposals, 35% of Social proposals, and 32% of Governance proposals. It cast at least one vote against management’s recommendations in 42% of this year’s meetings, compared to 39% last year.
– BlackRock voted against 10% of incumbent directors this year, up from 8.5% last year. Corporate governance concerns — including lack of board independence, insufficient diversity, and executive compensation — prompted most of the votes against directors’ elections, and other director-related proposals, globally. In the Americas, lack of board gender diversity was the most common reason for rejecting a director, accounting for 61% of negative votes. BlackRock withheld votes from 255 directors based on climate-related concerns.
– BlackRock voted against 5% of Say on Pay proposals in the Americas compared to 4% last year, and voted against 16% globally compared to 12% last year. BlackRock voted against 20 S&P 500 Say on Pay proposals, and 12 of these proposals failed to receive majority support.
The report covers BlackRock’s stewardship activities focusing on proxy voting for the period from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. It also provides specific engagement case studies and addresses how BlackRock’s voting aligned with its engagement priorities – which include board quality and effectiveness, aligning incentives with value creation, climate and natural capital, strategy, purpose and financial resilience, and company impacts on people.
– John Jenkins