BlackRock to pressure companies on climate and diversity

 

The world's biggest fund manager BlackRock (Sao Paolo: BLAK34.SA - news) is urging large companies to be transparent about climate risks and increase boardroom diversity.

The guidelines released Monday could have wide-ranging effects in a number of industries considering the broad influence of BlackRock, which holds and manages $5.1 trillion in stakes in a number of US and foreign corporations.

In its "engagement priorities" for 2017 and 2018, BlackRock is calling on companies to better inform the public and investors of risks that climate change poses to their businesses.

"Given climate risk is a systemic issue, we believe disclosure standards should be developed that are applicable to listed companies across each market and, ideally, that are globally consistent," the documents published on BlackRock's website read.

The US giant is endorsing the findings of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) -- the body of central bankers and experts in financial regulation -- which in late 2016 called on companies to draw up projections on the long-term impact of climate risks.

BlackRock said it will "engage companies most exposed to climate risk" and "encourage them" to implement recommendations formulated under the auspices of the FSB.

The fund manager said it expects the entire boards of these companies to "have demonstrable fluency in how climate risk affects the business and management's approach to adapting and mitigating the risk."

BlackRock said it will also look into how companies are improving boardroom diversity: "Diverse boards, including but not limited to diversity of expertise, experience, age, race and gender, make better decisions."

The fund giant vowed to hold accountable those companies who do not make "progress within a reasonable time frame."

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