Election of at least two new board members, against management recommendations is rebuke of CEO/Chair Darren Woods.
A wide range of climate activists and green investors celebrated the news Wednesday afternoon that shareholders revolted against management to elect *at least* two outsider candidates to the board of ExxonMobil (votes for two additional seats are still being counted as of this release). The new members are from the Engine No. 1 slate, which ran explicitly on a platform of addressing the long-term risks of climate change.
While the BlackRock’s Big Problem network did not formally endorse the Engine No. 1 slate ahead of the vote, climate activists and green investors welcome any positive change they may bring to Exxon.
BlackRock’s Big Problem explicitly called for BlackRock to vote against Exxon CEO/Chair Darren Woods and lead independent director Kenneth Frazier, who were also re-elected alongside the new members. News reports ahead of the vote indicated that BlackRock supported Woods and Frazier.
In response to the Exxon board shake-up, BlackRock’s Big Problem releases the following statements:
“Make no mistake: the shareholder vote to shake-up Exxon’s board represents a seismic shift for the company. It’s a culmination of years of activist energy and a result of massive shareholder frustration with the company’s failure to change course on climate. However, change must come from the top as well. And with Darren Woods still in charge of Exxon, we question if the new board members will be able to change course quickly or drastically enough. Exxon needs to stop greenwashing, align with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and phase-out oil and gas production, starting now. Accountability starts at the top and Darren Woods should step aside.” — Ben Cushing, Financial Advocacy Campaign Manager, Sierra Club
“What Engine No. 1 could accomplish with such a small ownership stake at Exxon is remarkable. Imagine what BlackRock, Vanguard and other major asset managers could do if they really wanted to effect change at the major polluters of the world. New board members are a start, but Exxon needs new leadership at the very top. If BlackRock is serious about climate change it should have voted specifically against Woods and Frazier. Once again this shareholder season, BlackRock has failed to fully use its massive voting power to act on climate.”
— Roberta Giordano, Finance Program Campaigner, The Sunrise Project
BlackRock’s Big Problem is a global network of NGOs, social movements, grassroots groups, and financial advocates that are pressuring asset managers like BlackRock to rapidly align their business practices with a climate-safe world.
Our network includes some of the most effective corporate campaigning groups in the US, UK, Europe, and around the world. We know that only by increasing pressure on customers, employees, peer companies, and in the media will these fossil fuel backers take the bold and visionary steps necessary to save humanity from the climate emergency.