How a BlackRock HR Exec Manages the Investment Firm Through COVID-19

  • Manish Mehta is the global head of human resources at the largest investment firm in the world.
  • He is spearheading inclusive hiring practices and employee well-being programs at BlackRock.
  • This article is part of Most Innovative HR Leaders, a series about talent heads who are innovating company culture, DEI, and employee experience.

Unlike many HR professionals, Manish Mehta took a more scenic route to his position in human resources.

Mehta leads the human resources team at BlackRock, the largest investment management firm in the world, with over 16,000 employees and $9.5 trillion in assets under management. Prior to being promoted to BlackRock’s global head of human resources in 2020, Mehta served as the company’s global head of markets and investments, and holds degrees in engineering, computer science, and business.

“HR chose me,” Mehta said. “I did not choose HR.”

A year ago, BlackRock publicly committed to increasing the diversity of its workforce. The company is now on track to increase the representation of Black and Latino employees by 30% and the representation of women in leadership to over 32% by 2024, Mehta said. For his ongoing work helping the firm reach its targets, Mehta was recognized as one of Insider’s 2022 HR innovators.

“Our people are our most important asset at BlackRock,” Mehta said. “We believe that it is crucial to continuously offer resources that will enable employees to bring their best selves to work, especially as we navigate a new world that blurs the lines between work and personal space.”

Over the past year, 48% of BlackRock’s new hires were women, while 15.3% of US hires identify as Black, 8.9% identify as Latinx, and 28.5% identify as Asian, Mehta said.

Additionally, 80% of BlackRock employees participate in at least one of 15 global employee, professional, and social impact networks. Mehta serves as the sponsor for the Asian and Middle Eastern Professionals network, which launched in 2021.

On top of employee networks, BlackRock also launched “inclusion dialogues” in 2021. These small group conversations, led by an external facilitator, seek to create inclusive environments through open communication. To date, there have been 1,000 sessions globally with 11,000 employees participating.

Employees’ mental and physical health has also been at the forefront of BlackRock’s priorities since the onset of the pandemic, Mehta said, noting that health “has guided every strategic people decision, from return-to-office timing to in-office safety measures to work from home flexibility policies.”

Mehta led BlackRock’s creation of the COVID HR Response on Managing Experiences (CHROME) team, which provides rapid responses to employees facing stress or loss. Alongside CHROME, BlackRock created a suite of COVID-19 health benefits, including on-site and at-home testing kits.

Lastly, to help employees handle this tumultuous time, BlackRock launched a volunteer-led Mental Health Ambassador (MHA) program, where hundreds of trained employee volunteers served as allies for firmwide mental health awareness.

The practices seem to have paid off: Despite high levels of resignation nationally, BlackRock’s turnover rate remained unchanged in 2021. And in an employee experience survey issued in September of 2020, 91% of employees reported they were proud to work at BlackRock, Mehta said .

“The pandemic has brought into stark relief the great impact that the HR function has on the human experience,” he said. “Navigating the challenges of the pandemic with our HR team, I have seen the difference HR can make in people’s lives.”

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