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What You Need to Know from Larry Fink’s 2019 Letter to CEOs

Last year, BlackRock’s CEO, Larry Fink, made waves within and beyond the corporate citizenship community with his annual letter to CEOs which sparked a global conversation about purpose-driven business as a path to sustainable growth. While the concepts weren’t new, it was the messenger that mattered – as the leader of the world’s largest investment management firm, Fink’s message demanded attention from business leaders beyond those focused on social impact day-to-day.

In his 2019 letter, Fink further stresses the value of purpose by positioning it as a business imperative. Purpose and profits are “inextricably linked,” he states, explaining that purpose provides a clear, strategic framework to guide companies through difficult decisions in these volatile times. And, in addition to his firmer call for companies to define and live their purpose, Fink describes stakeholders’ growing desire to see companies address social and political issues, particularly as they relate to the industries and regions in which they operate.

Fink’s point to invest in long-term strategic growth through social action is substantiated by looking at the preferences of Millennials, who will make up of 75% of the workforce in 2030.[1] Younger generations are 1.5x more likely than older generations to consider a company’s social commitments when searching for a job,[2] and 61% of Millennials express a preference for brands that have a point of view or stand for something.[3]

As corporate citizenship professionals who navigate these ever-changing industry tides with our clients daily, we affirm Fink’s vision and stand with him in calling companies to take action. It’s our passion to enable companies to thoughtfully design long-term growth strategies – with purpose and social impact at the core – that are embraced and embodied across the business. Further, we have no doubt that corporate voices, when used in the right context for issues of relevance to the business (and issues where the company itself is walking the walk), can move mountains.

Looking ahead, we anticipate the 2020 election will bring heightened pressure on corporations to address pressing and sometimes polarizing issues. We’re interested to see how companies navigate these expectations to responsibly and thoughtfully address causes that align to their business.

We see this focus on strategic social engagement not just as a business imperative, but also as an opportunity. We have, and always will, operated with the belief that companies have the capacity, the responsibility and the opportunity to change the world for the better. And that ultimately, those companies which do, will thrive.

[1] Forbes: “The Millennial Arrival and the Evolution of the Modern Workplace”

[2] Changing Our World: “The Authenticity Opportunity”

[3] Kantar Consulting: “Igniting Purpose-Led Growth”

About Julianne Barraque

Julianne Barraque  is a Senior Director in Changing Our World’s Corporate Social Engagement Practice and brings six years of experience in helping companies design and implement community involvement strategies that deliver on business and social impact.