BlackRock CEO Drops 'ESG' Term: 'I'm Ashamed of Being Part of This Conversation'

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink at the Clinton Global Initiative / Getty Images
June 26, 2023

The CEO of BlackRock said he is ditching the term "ESG" because he is "ashamed" to be involved in the debate surrounding so-called woke investing.

"I'm ashamed of being part of this conversation," CEO Larry Fink said on Sunday at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado, referring to the debate surrounding his investment company's focus on ESG—environmental, social, and governance issues—in its investments. "I'm not going to use the word ESG because it's been misused by the far left and the far right."

BlackRock has faced backlash from Republican-led states including Texas and Florida for its prioritization of "woke" investing. The latter divested $2 billion in state assets managed by BlackRock.

Fink tried to backtrack from his comments later in his remarks, claiming he "never said" he was ashamed.

"I never said I was ashamed," Fink said. "I'm not ashamed. I do believe in conscientious capitalism."

Fink also described his past focus on ESG issues as merely assessing the investment environment.

"When I write these [investment] letters, it was never meant to be a political statement," Fink said. "They were written to identify longterm issues to our longterm investors."

Republicans in recent years have fought to prevent investment funds from letting left-wing priorities shape their business. Several Republican attorneys general sent a letter in May to a climate organization, a leading ESG group, that led nearly half of the group's members to pull out and leave the organization in shambles.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) earlier this month introduced legislation to prohibit BlackRock from using federal retirement fund holdings for investments in ESG.

Published under: BlackRock , ESG