BlackRock Expanding Proxy Voting Rights for Retail Clients After ESG Scrutiny

BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager with $9 trillion in assets under management, declared plans to extend its Voting Choice program to retail investors in the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (IVV), its biggest ETF, worth $305 billion. The initiative originally targeted institutional investors and was operational from 2022, enabling the selection from 14 proxy voting policies. BlackRock now aims to offer seven of these to retail investors. Joud Abdel Majeid, global head of BlackRock Investment Stewardship, emphasized the company’s dedication to a future where all investors can participate in voting. “We are pleased to be working towards expanding BlackRock Voting Choice to our largest ETF”, Majeid said.

The new move will make over half of BlackRock’s total stock index fund assets, about $2.3 trillion, eligible for the Voting Choice Program. The available policies, ranked by alignment with management in proxy votes, range from the Glass Lewis Governance Focused Policy to the ISS Catholic Values Policy. BlackRock data indicates the extent of dissent in 2022 varied widely across policies, from 1% (Glass Lewis Governance Focused Policy) to 78% (ISS Catholic Values Policy).

Board approval is expected in September 2023 and the launch is slated for early 2024, just in time for the subsequent proxy voting season. The company follows Vanguard Group and State Street Corp., who have introduced similar programs.

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Jack McPherrin ([email protected]) is a managing editor of, research editor for The Heartland Institute, and a research fellow for Heartland's Socialism Research Center. He holds an MA in International Affairs from Loyola University-Chicago, and a dual BA in Economics and History from Boston College.