On October 13, 2016, Trillium Asset Management filed a shareholder resolution with BlackRock asking the company to issue a report discussing its proxy voting on workplace LGBT non-discrimination policy shareholder resolutions. Below is a press release regarding the filing.
October 18, 2016 // Boston, MA – Based on an analysis of mutual fund voting, it has been discovered that funds managed by BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) voted against the majority of recent shareholder resolutions requesting companies to add sexual orientation and gender identity to their corporate equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies – to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees that are not otherwise protected under federal and state laws.
In response, Trillium Asset Management has filed a shareholder proposal with BlackRock asking the company to issue a report assessing any inconsistencies between BlackRock’s proxy voting record, policies, and guidelines on workplace LGBT non-discrimination shareholder resolutions and the company’s public position and internal policies on this issue. The proposal was filed on behalf of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a leading LGBT organization focused exclusively on advancing LGBT rights in the U.S. and around the world.
In contrast to its poor voting record, BlackRock’s own EEO policy explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The company has a very strong track record with its own employees when it comes to LGBT inclusion and support having earned a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign corporate equality index, and internally offers an employee resource group to engage and support LGBT employees in promoting an inclusive environment.
Given that proxy voting is one of the principal ways in which investors can engage corporate leadership on management of portfolio risks and opportunities related to governance, we are deeply concerned about BlackRock’s voting record on LGBT issues.
“Astraea was founded on a vision of gender, racial and economic justice for all LGBTQI people,” J. Bob Alotta, Executive Director at Astraea Foundation stated. “Yet, despite undeniable progress and increased dialogue around human rights, we have a long way to go. Creating safe, inclusive workplaces is a fundamental step towards eliminating homophobia and securing human rights protections worldwide.”
Research from Credit Suisse finds that LGBT-supportive policies lead to positive business outcomes, lower staff turnover, and increased job satisfaction. Specifically, the April 2016 report documents that companies with strong LGBT policies and practices, saw share price outperformance of 3.0% per annum over the previous six years.
“This is really a matter of consistency, smart financial decisions, and common sense,” said Brianna Murphy, Vice President, Shareholder Advocacy at Trillium. “We believe it is in BlackRock’s and its shareholders’ best interests to align its proxy voting with the company’s approach to LGBT business smart inclusion and workplace policies,”
The analysis of proxy fund voting was performed by FundVotes for Trillium.
A link to coverage of the filing on Bloomberg News can be found here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-18/blackrock-s-proxy-votes-on-gays-called-at-odds-with-its-policies
The information provided is not a recommendation to buy or sell the securities mentioned. The securities were selected on an objective basis for illustrative purposes and do not represent all of the securities purchased, sold or recommended. It should not be assumed that investments in the securities has been or will be profitable.