Despite disruption caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, BlackRock notched 802 engagements with 688 of the companies in its investment portfolio in the first quarter, including multiple engagements with some companies.
The major engagement themes its stewardship team discussed with companies held in the firm's portfolios were governance, environmental and social issues, according to a first-quarter report released Tuesday by BlackRock's investment stewardship team.
BlackRock voted on 18,758 shareholder proposals and participated in 2,269 shareholder meetings in the first three-months of the year. The stewardship team voted against one or more management recommendations at more than 30% of the shareholder meetings and against more than 500 corporate directors over the three-month period.
Accomplishing numerous engagements in such a turbulent quarter required new ways of engaging with portfolio companies as the impact of COVID-19 rippled across the globe and employees of portfolio companies and BlackRock employees adjusted to working remotely, the report said.
"After an initial slowdown in engagements … the pace of meetings normalized and we have been able to carry out our fiduciary duty to our clients to engage and vote to support the value of their investments with few disruptions," the stewardship team said in the report.