BlackRock, Other Investors Target Climate Issues, Covid-19 Response and Board Seats in Shareholder Votes
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August 12, 2021
Sustainable LeadershipNext Generation BoardsEnvironmental, Social, and GovernanceBoard and CEO AdvisoryBoard Director and Chair SearchBoard Effectiveness
Executive Summary
Strength of index-tracking funds sets the stage for future showdowns over issues from director seats to climate-change disclosure.
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Excerpt from the article originally published in The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal article, "BlackRock, Other Investors Target Climate Issues, Covid-19 Response and Board Seats in Shareholder Votes​," quoted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Rich Fields on what we can expect to see from institutional investors in the future. The article is excerpted below.

BlackRock Inc. BLK +0.38% and other heavyweight investors were more willing to flex their muscles against companies in the past year, setting the stage for future showdowns over issues from board seats to climate-change disclosure. 

BlackRock funds withheld support from 10% of board directors on company shareholder ballots, or more than 6,500 director election proposals, in the year ended in June. 

That is up from 8.5% in the prior year. In addition, the world’s largest asset manager increased support for shareholder-led proposals. It backed 64% of environmental proposals, up from 11% during the prior year. 

BlackRock cast key votes alongside other big investors in signature shareholder battles that forced companies to make changes. 

Earlier this year, BlackRock, Vanguard Group and California pensions joined others in backing dissident directors at one of America’s most-prominent companies, Exxon Mobil Corp. It was the culmination of years-long frustration over the oil major’s handling of shareholder feedback. 

“There have been subtle but significant shifts at the largest institutions to be more assertive,” said Rich Fields, who heads Russell Reynolds Associates’ board-effectiveness practice. “The implication is there’s going to be more of this.” 

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