Against the backdrop of social and economic uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, BlackRock has released its engagement priorities for the 2020 proxy season. The priorities center on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, with an emphasis on sustainability issues and disclosure. BlackRock has made clear its intention to hold boards, board committees or senior-most non-executive directors (depending on the circumstance) accountable for demonstrating “material progress” on ESG-related disclosures and practices. Each of BlackRock’s five key areas of engagement has an associated key performance indicator (KPI) against which BlackRock will track a company’s progress. BlackRock has also begun to more frequently post company-specific voting bulletins explaining its voting decisions. In this Alert, we discuss some of the key takeaways for public companies and their boards about engagement with BlackRock, which have applicability to engagement with other major institutional investors as well.

View the Alert.