Investment Thesis: BlackRock, Inc. is an American investment management corporation providing investment and technology services to both institutional and retail clients globally. BlackRock was chosen for its financial reliability, strong ESG performance with material topics, competitiveness as an industry leader, commitment to racial justice, and opportunity to reduce its risks.
Shareholder Engagement Strategy: As the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock is well-positioned to advance racial equity by investing in initiatives that strengthen minorities' ability to accumulate wealth. By improving diversity internally and in its invested companies, BlackRock can realize additional financial returns directly and indirectly through improvement in diversity and inclusion. To multiply leverage to move BlackRock, the team proposed building a coalition of universities whose endowments either also employ BlackRock as an OCIO/fund manager or can invest in BlackRock as a shareholder. To engage with BlackRock, the coalition will follow a six-step process.
Investment Thesis: Tyler Technologies, Inc. engages in the provision of integrated technology and management solutions and services for the public sector with a focus on local governments. Tyler Technologies is a strong long-term investment because it is an industry leader in the government software market with a single focus on the public sector, historically with local agencies, and they are achieving success in expanding upmarket to serve larger government clients.
Shareholder Engagement Strategy: The team proposed engaging with Tyler Technologies Inc. to investigate the contribution to revenue and growth forecasts from products that are at risk of disproportionately harming low-income and communities of color. Specifically, the team was interested in products within Tyler Corrections, Public Safety, and Courts & Justice, including Citation Management, Computer Aided Dispatch, and Public Safety Analytics. They requested information on the revenue generated, investment in R&D and strategic acquisitions, and the projected growth in revenue from each of these products.
Investment Thesis: Upstart Holdings, Inc. operates a cloud-based artificial intelligence lending platform. Upstart has an 'asset-light' business model, resulting in strong growth in earnings and high returns on capital, they have first mover advantages and are quickly gaining momentum in a market that is greater than $3T, with plans for expansion into further products, and all participants in this system gain symbiotic benefits from the continuous model improvement.
Shareholder Engagement Strategy: The team proposed sending a letter to the company privately and directly as a first step towards engaging as a shareholder, looking to address issues of transparency within AI-based systems and possibly biased training data by taking steps including setting up an AI governance board, releasing anonymized, cleaned, and aggregated data regarding their lending practices, specifically develop new products for HBCUs, HSIs, and community colleges, and join an industry group focused on AI governance and ethics, as well as include a member of the Global AI Ethics Consortium on their AI governance board.
Investment Thesis: Albemarle is a global producer of Lithium, the World’s leading Lithium producer, poised for growth due to a favorable shift in automobile markets towards Electric vehicles, and unlocking value by a stakeholder-friendly ESG improvement plan.
Shareholder Engagement Strategy: The team recommended starting off by writing a letter to the management team at Albermarle requesting the disclosure of additional SASB metrics related to Workplace Health and Safety. Once this letter is delivered to the management team, the team recommended that Albemarle work together with experts on occupational hazard management to develop a clear plan to reduce employee and contractor exposure.