The world’s largest money manager has introduce a new policy forcing its 16,000 employees to disclose ‘personal relationships’ with all the company’s clients, in what is being described as the toughest policy yet on office romances.
BlackRock, the New York-based firm which manages $7.4 trillion in assets, introduced the new rules last week.
They are in addition to existing policies which forced the disclosure of relationships with other staff members.
Given that BlackRock, on behalf of the funds it runs, is one of the five largest shareholders in nearly every corporation in the S&P 500, the impact of the new policy is expected to be significant.
BlackRock, based in midtown Manhattan, is the world’s largest money manager
Chairman and CEO Larry Fink is among the most influential Wall Street figures in the U.S.
The new policy, obtained by the New York Post, states: ‘Employees are required to disclose all Personal Relationships with other BlackRock employees or contingent workers; as well as Personal Relationships with employees of a service provider, vendor, or other third party (including a client), if the non-BlackRock employee is within a group that interacts with BlackRock.’
A senior BlackRock executive told the paper it may be the broadest dating disclosure requirement in the financial business, if not Corporate America.
He said that it was designed to help employees.
‘It takes the assessment of what is or is not a conflict out of the employees’ hands and puts it into the hands of HR and lawyers — which makes it eminently enforceable,’ the executive said.
BlackRock is among the most progressive of companies when it comes to office romances.
Last year two executives were fired for their office romances, with an email being sent to all staff informing them of the reason for their departure.
Jeff Smith, BlackRock’s global human resources head, was fired in July 2019 for breaches of the company policy on disclosing relationships, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Mark Wiseman, an executive who headed BlackRock’s active equities business and has been married to one of BlackRock’s country heads, was publicly forced out in December 2019 for failing to disclose a relationship with another woman.
He had been involved for a few months with the woman, who worked directly for him, according to people familiar with the matter.
Office romances must be disclosed under BlackRock’s new policy
Wiseman was considered a contender to eventually replace Larry Fink, the 67-year-old chairman and CEO, who is currently tipped for a role in a possible Joe Biden administration.
Fink has told senior leaders that the public firings make clear to staff that they are free to point out problems in the workplace.
‘More and more people who are entering the workforce think differently from I did when I was young,’ said Fink in January, when BlackRock released its quarterly financial results.
‘I think everybody is looking to be a part of an organization they want to believe in.’