BlackRock: Linking Purpose to Profit

Case Solution

Rohit Deshpande, Aiyesha Dey, George Serafeim
Harvard Business School ()

The case revolves around actions taken by Barbara Novick, Blackrock Co-Founder and Vice President, and Michelle Edkins, Global Chief Investment Officer, in response to controversial letters from Laurence (Larry) Fink CEO, President and CEO from BlackRock, I would have to take. Fink’s letters focused on the importance of corporate purpose and investment when considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. The case also looks at Blackrock’s plans for a new shareholder retention model to drive the proposed changes in the letters. The case provides an opportunity to discuss the governance role that large institutional investors play and how the responsibilities and actions of a large investor, BlackRock, should evolve in that role in the future. It is unclear whether BlackRock should play that role and, if so, whether it can enforce and enforce corporate compliance, given that it is primarily an indexed investor. The case is likely to spark a lively debate on the merits of BlackRock’s announcements and the importance of business investment in ESG issues, as well as discussions about measurement and disclosure strategies that can measure progress on these dimensions.

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