If you work for Larry Fink, you really want to know who you are connected with.
Fink, the volatile chief executive of BlackRock – the largest money manager in the world – has recently “updated” his company’s appointment policy. In the past, employees were advised to tell HR whenever they had a romantic relationship with another employee, an intelligible but intrusive part of corporate life in the #MeToo era.
But last week, Fink and his management team went overboard, with a policy that was euphemistically titled “updated relationships at work”.
“Employees are required to disclose all Personal Relationships with other BlackRock employees or contingent workers; as well as Personal Relationships with employees of a service provider, vendor or other third party (including a customer), if any. employee who is not BlackRock is in a group that interacts with BlackRock, ”reads part of the policy obtained by your real ones.
OK, let’s digest that for a moment. We know that men in powerful positions have abused their power, and that many are rightly held responsible for it. A degree of surveillance is necessary.
We also know that people are human; they work long hours and often find a partner while they are at work. But BlackRock’s policy goes beyond the normal monitoring of employee-to-employee behavior to such an Orwellian degree that, at least on the face of it, it could force the company’s HR department to impose judgments every time one of its employees. the company leaves on a date.
Consider: BlackRock employs more than 16,000 people worldwide; its employees include everyone, from C-suite executives to money managers to people marketers, technicians and computer programmers all over the globe (the company’s presence in India, for example, has grown rapidly in the recent years as a way to reduce labor costs), not to mention people working as assistants, secretaries and police crews.
The company manages $ 7.4 trillion in cash for individuals, large corporations, sovereign wealth funds. . . and I’m sure I’ll leave some. BlackRock isn’t just great, it’s massive. The company’s tentacles affect every major bank in the world in some way, and many non-banks – from companies that provide computer programming, to vendors that operate coffee machines in their offices around the world.
See what I mean. Taken to the letter, we speak (cautiously) to thousands of people who interact with BlackRock in one way or another and may be affected here. Does that mean that every time some of Larry’s employees go on a date with a person who has a job in finance (and many other professions), they’re supposed to check every connection to BlackRock and report the matter to HR or shoot him in the face?
I asked BlackRock to put Larry on the phone to tell me if I was missing something here, but a spokesman said. A senior BlackRock executive who spoke at the bottom has, however, confirmed the content of the company’s new policy and acknowledged that it could be the broadest requirement for disclosing appointments in financial activity, if not Corporate America.
The executive has defended the policy, saying its purpose – to prevent conflicts – is in line with other large corporations. It is also designed to make life easier for employees, he insisted.
“It takes the assessment of what is or is not a conflict out of the hands of employees and puts it in the hands of the UK and lawyers – which makes it eminently applicable,” the executive said.
He added that the “real focus” is not an innocent, casual relationship that can happen between people in BlackRock and people in other companies who do business with the company (i.e., friendships), but what he does. he called it “inter-team relations” »which are of a romantic nature. He noted that the policy places emphasis on disclosure about relationships with an “employee who is not BlackRock … in a group that interacts with BlackRock.”
However, the executive admitted that there is a certain degree of interpretation in the rule. Some more innocent relationships may fall under the policy depending on the facts and circumstances, which is why HR wants to be involved.
The biggest question I have is why is BlackRock – which is supposed to be in the money management business – becoming a focus for progressive Corporate Puritanism that goes well beyond #MeToo concerns?
You can point to a couple of recent scandals involving home matches on BlackRock that have captured titles. One involved Mark Wiseman, his global head of action (and once a possible successor to Fink), who at the end of last year left the company after it was revealed he had a consensual relationship with a colleague who worked there. under him. Adding to the drama, Wiseman’s wife worked at BlackRock while it all went on.
Meanwhile, Fink enjoys his role as perhaps the smartest executive director in Corporate America, and has been fishing, I’m told, to become secretary of the treasury if Joe Biden wins in November.
See his comments on corporate governance, climate change, the actions he’s taken in response to recent civil unrest, and you can conclude that Fink’s real goal is to make his name on the dollar.