‘Woke investing’ draws ire of conservative lawmakers

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By TOM GANTERT AND BRETT ROWLAND | THE CENTER SQUARE

BlackRock Inc., the self-proclaimed world’s largest investment manager, announced this year that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the growth of “gender lens investing.”

The term, which didn’t appear in newspapers until 2012, is described by one multi-national accounting firm as “investing in organizations that promote workplace equity … or in organizations that offer products or services that improve the lives of women in a sustainable manner.”

It’s that type of what the political right refers to as “woke investing” known as ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) that has BlackRock and a handful of other investment managers on the radar of Republican politicians.

With annual revenue of $19.3 billion, BlackRock was accused in 2021 media stories of flexing its economic might by demanding “corporate polluters” to explain how they meet BlackRock’s goal of net zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 or risk BlackRock divesting from those companies with its managed funds.

Some states are now responding.

State of Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar published a list of 10 financial companies that boycott energy companies. BlackRock was on his list.

“The environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement has produced an opaque and perverse system in which some financial companies no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients, but instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy,” Hegar said in a statement.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated in a letter that BlackRock’s energy agenda may violate state laws across the country that are “requiring a sole focus on financial return.”

“Our states will not idly stand for our pensioners’ retirements to be sacrificed for BlackRock’s climate agenda,” Paxton’s letter stated, which was signed by a total of 19 GOP state attorneys general.

In August, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the State Board of Administration passed a resolution that removed ESG from consideration when it comes to investing state funds.

“Corporate power has increasingly been utilized to impose an ideological agenda on the American people through the perversion of financial investment priorities under the euphemistic banners of environmental, social, and corporate governance and diversity, inclusion, and equity,” DeSantis said in a statement.

In 2021, BlackRock reported record results.

BlackRock supports the Paris Agreement, in which the U.S. ended its participation in 2020 under President Donald Trump due to the “onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States.” Trump said in a news release the Paris Accord would cost the U.S. economy $3 trillion and 6.5 million industrial jobs by 2040. President Joe Biden reversed course on his first day in office and accepted the Paris Agreement.

The Texas Attorney General’s Aug. 4, 2022, letter specifically mentioned BlackRock’s support of the Paris Agreement.

BlackRock has been transparent about its investment strategy involving ESG.

In 2018, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink sent a letter to CEOs stating, “Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Fink added, “… a company’s ability to manage environmental, social, and governance matters demonstrates the leadership and good governance that is so essential to sustainable growth, which is why we are increasingly integrating these issues into our investment process.”

Tom Gantert worked at many daily newspapers including the Ann Arbor News, Lansing State Journal and USA Today. Gantert was the managing editor of Michigan Capitol Confidential for five years before joining The Center Square.

Brett Rowland has worked as a reporter in newsrooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. He most recently served as news editor of the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Illinois. He previously held the same position at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Larry Fink is deluded and all the energy restrictions now being forced upon our world will do nothing to change weather patterns that have been changing without our help since the earth was formed. Not to mention the promotion of insanity via their social engineering efforts. Black Rock is just another destructive woke cult company. Sadly we will have to wait for history to prove this reality as the cultists are blinded to truth and reality.

    • The former Soviet Union (CCCP/USSR) went belly up; and nobody learned any lesson. It’s foundation is still there, and Putin is trying to rebuild it to it’s former glory.
      The cultists are not blinded to the truth. Their admitted goal is to turn America into another failing communist country; counting on their being in position to reap the rewards of a new ruling class.
      BlackRock Inc., is merely positioning itself for whichever way the next wind blows. Smart, but not very patriotic. They have aligned with the world’s oligarchs, in the joint goal of amassing more wealth and power.
      It’s simply a higher level of control freaks: people (corporations managed by) who lack self control, and compensate by seeking control over others (other peoples money).
      History is always written by the winners.

  2. Sad thing. Almost nobody cares about private equity firms forcing social change on us. But God above, people are still losing their crap over Palin.

    Black Rock will have a much bigger impact on our lives than the most junior member of the House ever could.

  3. I was opposed to brokerages providing “Socially Responsible” investments when they were first offered in the 1990s. Who are they to determine which industries are “socially responsible?” What’s irresponsible to them might be considered responsible to me. Take the oil and gas industry for example. They have facilitated tremendous prosperity and advancements for the entire world. Yet woke brokerages have deemed them “irresponsible,” and thus unworthy of investment. It’s not their place to make moral judgements on investments. It’s for individual investors to decide. Their opinion is often in conflict with the investors they serve.

  4. Eighteen states, including Missouri, Texas, and Louisiana have joined forces to investigate BlackRock, Vanguard, State Street, Morningstar and other large investment management firms for violating their fiduciary duty to their investors with their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Boycott, Sanctions, and Divestment (BDS) policies.

    Seeing as North Slope development has been one of their primary targets, why hasn’t the State of Alaska joined this group?

    How much of our Permanent Fund is being managed by these woke investing firms?

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