After UN Women announced a partnership with BlackRock to promote gender lens investing, the outcry was predictably deafening. Hundreds of feminist organizations signed a letter demanding the repudiation of the partnership.
Why? Because BlackRock, with nearly $10 trillion in assets under management, has a penchant for prioritizing profit over human rights and environmental integrity.
Despite BlackRock’s nice rhetoric on climate change and gender, their practice does not back up their words. From investing billions in fossil fuels to voting against labor rights resolutions to refusing debt restructuring to developing countries facing the biggest debt crisis they have ever seen, BlackRock can hardly be considered a model of gender-responsive investing.
Here’s the twist: UN Women listened! Last week, they terminated the partnership with BlackRock. They were willing to acknowledge their mistake and fix it. This gives me hope. More international agencies could stand to learn from this kind of responsiveness.
The bigger issue, however, is that the world is obsessed with this notion that big private sector has the answers, that they will save us. But those who are complicit in driving the kind of inequality and environmental devastation we see today are highly unlikely to be good faith partners. Until they are held fully accountable, how can we possibly expect meaningful change? Don’t we need something more exciting?