During the recent proxy season, BlackRock Inc. voted against more than four times the number of board directors it voted against last year because they failed to act on climate issues.
The New York-based asset manager rejected 255 directors at companies including Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corp. in the period ended June 30, up from 55 a year earlier, according to its stewardship report. BlackRock also failed to support the management of 319 companies for climate-related reasons, compared with 53 in 2020.
Overall, BlackRock said it supported 35% of 843 shareholder proposals that it voted on in the recent proxy season, compared with 17% in the previous year. Of those, it backed about two-thirds of the environmental resolutions, and about a third of the social and governance proposals, according to the report. Last year, BlackRock said it supported 11% of the environmental proposals, 7% of the social resolutions and 20% on governance.
The world’s largest fund manager said it held more than 2,300 conversations with company executives on climate and natural capital in the year ended June 30. The report didn’t give a corresponding number for the previous year.
While recognizing “incremental” improvement in BlackRock’s voting record, Majority Action, a nonprofit shareholder advocacy group, said the firm needs to “substantially enhance its voting and engagement strategies to protect its clients, company stakeholders and long-term shareholders overall” against the climate crisis and other systemic risks such as racial inequality.
BlackRock said it voted against the reelection of 1,862 directors at 975 companies because of a lack of board diversity. Following the racial injustice protests last year, the world’s largest asset manager said it may vote against directors at companies that aren’t diversifying their ranks.
BlackRock said it declined to back the reelection of 2,222 directors at 1,327 companies due to a lack of independence, and withdrew support for 758 directors at 639 corporations because they had too many commitments.
The company said it voted against management on 33% of “say on pay” proposals — which are votes on executive pay — compared with 26% in the previous year.