- REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Larry Fink, the chief executive at BlackRock, which with $5.1 trillion is the world’s biggest investor, just sent a memo to his staff addressing what he described as an “uncertain” and “uneasy” time.
“As we move forward in 2017, I ask each of you to help us better understand the many cultures and nations we serve,” he said in the memo. “Lend your ear to differing voices and opinions. Embrace the diversity of our people and the world around us.”
Fink is one of several Wall Street CEOs who has sent a memo to employees in recent weeks, with many addressing President Donald Trump’s move to sign an executive order temporarily barring entry to the US by all refugees and by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries. Fink on Monday sent a memo to staff, also signed by Blackrock president Rob Kapito and Jeff Smith, global head of human resources, addressing the executive order.
JPMorgan has set up a hotline for those who think they may be affected by the executive order. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein sent a memo to employees vowing to minimize any disruption resulting from the order. And Mike Corbat, the CEO of Citigroup, said “we are concerned about the message the executive order sends.”
Here’s the memo from Fink in full:
Renewing our principles as a global leader
To: All employees
For most of the last half century, the trend of globalization has moved almost exclusively in one direction: forward. Fueled by the transformative power of technology, the flow of people, goods, and capital accelerated across international borders. Nations grew closer together. The world became more intertwined and interdependent.
Today, however, globalization is in retreat. The backlash against globalization that began in the Middle East, then spread to Europe, has now taken firm root in the U.S. While globalization has fueled economic growth and lifted millions out of poverty, it has also created dislocation and distributed benefits unevenly. As a result, economic nationalism is rising in many countries. The security and trade architecture that has governed recent decades is being redefined, and we are likely to see a fragmentation of global trade and capital flows as a result.
At this time of profound change, I think it is important for us as a firm to recommit ourselves to certain core principles.
First, we must rededicate ourselves to operating as a truly global company. Since our founding 29 years ago, BlackRock has sought to engage with and embrace talent and clients from cultures in all corners of the world. We will not retreat from that commitment.
I have frequently talked about the need to be local in every market where we operate. The current environment makes that more urgent than ever. While we need to operate as One BlackRock across the globe, we also need to be German in Germany, Japanese in Japan and Mexican in Mexico. Even as we leverage the benefits of our global scale, we need to work to be more relevant to our clients in each market than any local player.
The needs of investors in São Paulo differ from those in London, as those in Abu Dhabi differ from those in Hong Kong. The market dynamics are different. The cultures are different. The way people save and invest are different. We need to understand those differences and deliver advice and solutions that meet the unique needs of clients in each market.
We also need to be active and engaged corporate citizens in these communities. We need to promote our commitment to long-termism. We need to contribute constructively through the products and services we provide as well as our philanthropy, policy advocacy, and the relationships we forge. As part of these efforts, BlackRock’s senior leadership engages with governments and leaders around the world – from the White House to 10 Downing to Zhongnanhai – when we believe engaging in public-private dialogue is necessary for long-term solutions.
Second, we must renew our commitment to diversity and inclusion. These cannot be buzzwords – they are principles by which we must live. The employees of BlackRock represent more than 50 nations and speak more than 100 languages. We are people of many races, faiths, and cultures. That diversity is our strength. To deliver our commitments to our clients, we must attract the best talent, wherever we find it in the world. We need to nurture a culture where people of all types feel valued, included, and encouraged to reach their full potential.
I recognize that this is an uncertain time – and an uneasy one. More than ever, we must continue to lead by example, living out our commitment to inclusion and to strengthening our ties with clients and partners around the world.
As we move forward in 2017, I ask each of you to help us better understand the many cultures and nations we serve. Lend your ear to differing voices and opinions. Embrace the diversity of our people and the world around us. Deepen the bonds with the communities in which we operate. That always has been, and will remain, the BlackRock way.
Chairman and CEO
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that Larry Fink and his colleagues Rob Kapito and Jeff Smith sent a memo to staff on Monday addressing the US executive order restricting travel from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.