By Geoff Campbell and Alexandra Corwin of Round Table Companies
Conscious Capitalism Inc. cofounder and chairman emeritus Raj Sisodia had just given a presentation at the Lead with Love Leadership Summit in Aspen, Colorado, when a woman approached him.
“You and Larry Fink need to meet,” she said before setting the meeting in motion.
Then just days before the meeting, Fink, cofounder and CEO of the BlackRock investment firm, sent a letter to the chief executives of the largest public companies, telling them they should focus on value creation for all stakeholders—that they needed to have a larger purpose than making profits—and that they must engage with the community and make a positive contribution to society.
And he included a warning: if a business doesn’t act in a way that promotes societal good, “it will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”
“As you read the letter, you see he was using our language,” said Sisodia,the FW Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He said he couldn’t help but be impressed by Fink and by the BlackRock firm.
First, despite Fink’s clout, Sisodia said that during the course of his 35-minute meeting, it was clear that Fink is a grounded, Conscious Leader, and “just a regular guy.” Second, Fink has been living Conscious Capitalism principles within his firm.
“He’s creating a different kind of financial firm,” Sisodia said. “It has a culture that is people-centered, and he speaks of emotional connection. People stay there instead of moving on to other jobs, which is the norm in this kind of high-pressure environment.”
Sisodia said he was able to talk to Fink about the Conscious Capitalism movement and even invited him to an upcoming CCI meeting. While Fink said he’s already committed at that time, he wants to send other top executives.
BlackRock’s influence in the financial community is hard to overstate.