BlackRock Revamps Bias, Harassment Policies After Review

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BlackRock Inc. said that it will change the way it handles employee complaints about issues like sexual harassment and racial discrimination, after enlisting a law firm to investigate its practices.

The world’s largest asset manager faced a reckoning this year, after a former employee opened a racial discrimination lawsuit, one of its most senior executives apologized for previous off-color remarks, and another ex-employee published a Medium post alleging she was mistreated for her Muslim faith. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink told employees Thursday that after a broad review by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, the firm will create new channels for employees to bring up discrimination issues, and will give employees more information on how the investigations are conducted.

“Engaging in this kind of hard self-assessment is the only way to continue to improve, and I am grateful to our employees who contributed to the review,” Fink wrote in a memo to staff.

Fink said that going forward, when an employee brings up an issue like workplace harassment, it will designate an employee as a “support person” during the review process, create a new way for employees to get confidential help without raising a formal complaint, add more training for managers on what to do about misconduct, and expand its investigations group, among other measures.

The law firm interviewed more than 50 current and former employees at BlackRock in its investigation, according to the memo.

BlackRock committed earlier this year to undergoing a broad review of misconduct allegations, and its policies for handling those issues.

The money manager, which oversees about $9 trillion in assets, faced a series of high-profile allegations this year. BlackRock’s head of international and corporate strategy Mark Wiedman apologized in March for “clumsy and misguided” remarks at past work events. A former employee alleged she was “forced out” after complaining about the different rate of promotion for Black employees.

The firm also fired two members of its global executive committee in 2019 over inappropriate workplace relationships, including its former global head of human resources Jeff Smith and former head of active equities Mark Wiseman.

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