Michelle Edkins, BlackRock’s (BLK.N) global head of investment stewardship, said in an interview on Tuesday that the pandemic is consuming corporate attention but indicated that BlackRock will not cut company directors slack as it decides whether to back their re-election.
BlackRock will continue to judge whether boards have made progress against goals BlackRock has touted for several years such as those tied to climate issues, Edkins said. This year, she said, “We’re being much more direct.”
Absent progress the company expects it will vote against more directors, she said. In previous years it has supported directors about 97% of the time at Russell 3000 companies, according to Proxy Insight.
Edkins also said the pandemic could help sort out which companies have kept a long-term focus and have strong human capital management and business continuity plans.
“The concept of long-term sustainability would suggest that companies that come through this crisis and do well would be exactly the kinds of companies you would look to as role models,” she said.