FILE PHOTO: A sign for BlackRock Inc hangs above their building in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. To match Special Report USA-FUNDS/INDEX  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A sign for BlackRock Inc hangs above their building in New York

Reuters

  • Blackrock has ordered its 16,000 employees to inform their managers of romantic, sexual, or personal relationships they have with anyone connected to the company.
  • This covers staff from a “service provider, vendor or other third party,” including clients.
  • Extending a relationship disclosure policy to external firms is unusual, and Blackrock's policy potentially covers hundreds of thousands of relationships.
  • If there is a chance of the disclosed personal relationship creating a conflict of interest, the company may make “alternative work arrangements,” according to Blackrock’s policy, outlined in a memo seen by The Times.
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Blackrock, the world's largest asset manager, is telling staff to disclose all sexual relationships they have with anyone linked to the firm, not just their colleagues.

Employees were already expected to tell managers about sexual, romantic, or other personal relationships with other staff, but a new internal policy, seen by The Times, covers relationships with anyone that works "within a group that interacts with Blackrock." 

This includes "employees of a service provider, vendor, or other third party (including a client)," an internal memo said.

Extending relationship disclosures policies beyond a single company is an unusual move. Blackrock employs 16,000 people, meaning the policy could force the disclosure of hundreds of thousands of relationships.

The company policy defines a personal relationship as one that could be perceived as "impropriety, bias, favoritism, and/or abuse of authority within a work environment." It does not include friendships.

If a Blackrock employee discloses a personal relationship, "alternative work arrangements" may be put in place, if the relationship could create a conflict of interest, the policy states.

Blackrock, which has nearly $6.5 trillion assets under management,  sacked two male executives last year who failed to disclose consensual relationships with colleagues. 

Mark Wiseman, who was head of active equities and chair of alternatives, said in December that he engaged in a consensual relationship with a fellow employee without reporting it. "I regret my mistake and I accept responsibility for my actions," he said. BlackRock's human resources head, Jeffrey Smith, was fired in July 2019 for breaking company rules on disclosing relationships, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Other high-profile business figures to fall foul of workplace relationship rules include McDonald's former CEO Steve Easterbrook, who left last year over a consensual workplace relationship with a colleague, and Intel's former CEO Brian Krzanich, who resigned after the tech company discovered he had a "past consensual relationship" with an employee.

Blackrock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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