How Should Boards Interpret The BlackRock CEO Letter?

Episode Summary

For the last eight years, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has published an annual Letter to CEOs, which paints a picture of sustainable, long-term growth for today’s companies. Representing the world’s largest asset manager and global investment corporation, the BlackRock CEO titled his most recent letter “A Sense of Purpose”, calling on management and boards to account for their impact on society. Beyond the letter’s seemingly “social” facade, however, there are several key takeaways for boards to glean.

In this episode, guest host Doug Chia, Executive Director, The Conference Board Governance Center, welcomes Judith Samuelson, Vice President & Executive Director, The Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program, to dissect BlackRock’s annual CEO letter and discuss the implications for today’s companies.

By talking about purpose and long-term strategy, he’s opening up a question about the business model–not about the social initiatives…He’s really asking about: What’s the DNA of this company? What are you really about? How are you defining your long-term strategy? How are you going to measure success?
— Judith Samuelson, Vice President, The Aspen Institute

Samuelson runs through several recent examples where companies have fallen short of aligning company purpose with the business model. In this episode, she covers:

  • Why are some calling this letter a game-changer?
  • What’s the takeaway for board members?

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