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BlackRock analysts and summer interns gathered to pack food for City Harvest to help feed disadvantaged New Yorkers.

Clients come first in environment that celebrates personal, professional goals

Fourth place, managers with 1,000 or more employees

Getting its corporate arms around a U.S. institutional investment-related workforce of 2,095 to promote a culture of putting clients first, while trying to balance the professional development and personal lifestyle of employees is a challenge BlackRock (BLK) Inc. (BLK) embraces.

One manner it does so is through an annual “hackathon,” inviting employees worldwide to form teams to collaborate on creating software applications, processes or other innovations to enhance the way the company interacts with clients, manages money or does research. This year, the company, a three-time winner in Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey, received ideas from 100 teams.

A BlackRock panel selects finalists, who present their team creations at the New York-based company's global leadership summit, an annual assembly of 100 or so of its top executives for a three-day strategy and planning session. This year, it was held in Barcelona. BlackRock internally streams online the presentations to all its offices worldwide, allowing finalists “to showcase their talent,” while enhancing their professional development, said Edwin N. Conway, managing director and global head of the institutional client business.

BlackRock “commits to ... implementing the top chosen applications ... into our business,” Mr. Conway said.

To address workplace issues, BlackRock conducts an annual survey of employees worldwide for feedback on their experience at the company. Conducted by an outside firm, the survey typically generates a 97% to 98% response rate, Mr. Conway said. BlackRock prioritizes issues the survey identifies and provides resources and time for employees to address the issues themselves, while allowing everyone to track progress on implementation through an internal online infographic, Mr. Conway said.

Sentiments expressed by employees in the Best Places survey noted that BlackRock “empowers” employees to make decisions, is a “meritocracy,” pays “slightly above market salaries” and promotes a work/life balance. As one employee concludes, “Everyone is so passionate about BlackRock and what we do.”

This article originally appeared in the December 12, 2016 print issue as, "BlackRock".