BlackRock opposed 93% of E&S proposals globally in 2023 proxy year

US investment giant bemoans ‘continued’ decline of quality of proposals in voting spotlight.

BlackRock voted against 93 percent of environmental and social proposals globally over the last proxy year, according to its latest global voting spotlight. 

The investment behemoth, which has been one of the primary targets of the anti-ESG backlash in the US, revealed that it supported just 26 proposals on “climate and natural capital and company impacts on people” out of a possible 399 between July 2022 and June 2023. 

That was barely a third of the number supported by the investor in the previous proxy year. BlackRock’s 2022 voting spotlight revealed that its stewardship team supported 22 percent (or 71) of environmental and social (E&S) shareholder proposals that went to the vote globally at investee firms. 

In the US, it supported 24 percent of E&S proposals during the 2021-22 proxy year, down from 43 percent the year before, with prescriptiveness of requests cited at the time as the reason for the fall. 

The “continued” decline in quality of proposals this proxy season was the reason for the further drop in support, according to BlackRock’s global head of investment stewardship, Joud Abdel Majeid.  

“Shareholders submitted a record number of proposals in the 2022-23 proxy year and the quality of proposals continued to decline,” she wrote in the foreword to the report. 

“Because so many proposals were over-reaching, lacking economic merit, or simply redundant, they were unlikely to help promote long-term shareholder value and received less support from shareholders, including BlackRock, than in years past.” 

In the report, BlackRock said the “poor quality” of proposals was reflected in the dwindling support. “Median shareholder support for environmental and social shareholder proposals in the US was 15 percent [in 2022-23], down from 25 percent in the 2021-22 proxy year.” 

In March, Responsible Investor reported that “ESG” – a loaded term in the current US political environment – was conspicuously absent from the annual letter to CEOs from BlackRock’s chair and chief executive Larry Fink.  

Similarly, ESG is only mentioned six times in the latest voting report, all of which are in the footnotes. By contrast, the term appeared 24 times in the 2022 voting report.

Overall, BlackRock voted against 91 percent of shareholder proposals globally.