Other Group

Center for Stakeholder Capitalism

Founded:

2022

Founder:

Larry Fink

Type:

ESG Institution

The Center for Stakeholder Capitalism (CSC) advocates for the financial sector to invest in industries whose work aligns with left-progressive ideology. The CSC was founded by Larry Fink, the chief executive officer of BlackRock, a major international asset management corporation. BlackRock is a leader in so-called “stakeholder capitalism,” an environmental-social-governance (ESG) philosophy which demands that financial institutions build their investment portfolios not only to maximize profits but also to advance causes such as environmentalism and “anti-racism.” [1]

Fink, who launched the CSC in January 2022, has claimed that “stakeholder capitalism is not about politics” and denies that this approach to investing includes a left-of-center ideological component. At the same time, he has emphasized the need for investment firms to be “deliberate” about their involvement in societal causes, and that applying the principles of stakeholder capitalism “is more important than ever.” [2]

“Stakeholder Capitalism”

Larry Fink has long championed a “stakeholder” model of investing that prioritizes the interests of those allegedly impacted by the actions of a given company or industry, as opposed to the traditional approach of maximizing the returns of shareholders or investors. [3]

In his letter to CEOs in which he announced the Center for Stakeholder Capitalism, Fink denied that stakeholder capitalism was “about politics” or constituted a “social or ideological agenda.” [4]

Criticism

In April 2020, a large group of economists, investors, and policy experts signed an open letter to Fink criticizing his rigid adherence to the “stakeholder” model and the so-called “environmental, social, and governance” (ESG) approach to investing. The letter’s signatories argued that the goals of ESG promoters are primarily “societal and political” and that they are “unconcerned with corporate performance,” making their influence on investing harmful. [5]

Right-of-center observers have criticized BlackRock for allegedly making financial decisions with significant consequences for Americans while maintaining a close relationship with the United States government. National Review dismissed Fink’s long-time claim that “stakeholder” capitalism is not political, arguing that Fink supports “using corporate power to pursue … a social and ideological agenda.” National Review suggested that Fink and others like him “are well aware” that this agenda “can be used for coercive means.” [6]

At the same time, left-of-center commentators have also criticized BlackRock and its “stakeholder” approach for allegedly failing to make environmental and societal causes enough of a priority. The New Republic, a left-progressive publication, has attacked the firm for purportedly “evading regulatory scrutiny” and “contributing to the climate catastrophe,” all while seeking to increase its influence over the Biden administration. [7]

References

  1. Michael Grothaus. “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink launches Center for Stakeholder Capitalism, says it’s not ‘woke.’” Fast Company. January 18, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.fastcompany.com/90713761/blackrock-ceo-larry-fink-launches-center-for-stakeholder-capitalism-says-its-not-woke ^
  2. Michael Grothaus. “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink launches Center for Stakeholder Capitalism, says it’s not ‘woke.’” Fast Company. January 18, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.fastcompany.com/90713761/blackrock-ceo-larry-fink-launches-center-for-stakeholder-capitalism-says-its-not-woke ^
  3. Michael Grothaus. “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink launches Center for Stakeholder Capitalism, says it’s not ‘woke.’” Fast Company. January 18, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.fastcompany.com/90713761/blackrock-ceo-larry-fink-launches-center-for-stakeholder-capitalism-says-its-not-woke ^
  4. Michael Grothaus. “BlackRock CEO Larry Fink launches Center for Stakeholder Capitalism, says it’s not ‘woke.’” Fast Company. January 18, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.fastcompany.com/90713761/blackrock-ceo-larry-fink-launches-center-for-stakeholder-capitalism-says-its-not-woke ^
  5. “Open Letter to BlacRock CEO Larry Fink.” National Center for Public Policy Research. April 15, 2020. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://nationalcenter.org/ncppr/2020/04/15/open-letter-to-blackrock-ceo-larry-fink/ ^
  6. Andrew Stuttaford. “Larry Fink and the Wrong Kind of Capitalism.” National Review. January 22, 2022. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://www.nationalreview.com/2022/01/larry-fink-and-the-wrong-kind-of-capitalism/ ^
  7. Kate Aronoff. “Is BlackRock the New Vampire Squid?” The New Republic. June 26, 2020. Accessed January 23, 2022. https://newrepublic.com/article/158263/blackrock-climate-change-fossil-fuel-investments ^
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