JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon is committed to improving racial equity in diverse communities
During a sit-down with AL DÍA, Dimon spoke on a number of topics including racial equity efforts, and branch expansions in Philadelphia.
If there is one positive that can be taken from the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, it’s that it’s placed a brighter spotlight on some of the many disparities that have long existed in our society.
That was a message expressed by JPMorgan Chase CEO and Chairman Jamie Dimon, on Wednesday, Oct. 13.
“It opened up the eyes of a lot of people saying this has got to change and we should be doing more,” said Dimon during a sit-down interview with AL DÍA.
Dimon, who was in Philadelphia after being named a recipient of the Eisenhower Award for his leadership and service, discussed a number of topics. Among them was how JPMorgan Chase has long been committed to address several of the longstanding disparities people of color have faced in our nation.
Years ago, JPMorgan Chase launched both Advancing Black Leaders and Advancing Black Pathways. The former is a diversity strategy aimed at attracting, hiring, retaining and advancing top talent within the Black community, while the latter is an initiative that builds on existing efforts to help the Black community chart stronger paths toward economic success and empowerment.
Dimon noted that internally, Black leaders in executive director and managing director positions at JPMorgan Chase have increased 50% since those initiatives were launched.
The pandemic, coupled with the civil unrest that ensued in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, made those two initiatives even more important and the reality of nation’s conditions even more apparent.
“It showed us something which we already knew,” said Dimon, “that when bad times happen, it hurts and lower-paid much more, and that the Black community has been way left behind.”
He added that any efforts being made to address this issue need to be long-term, sustained, and approached from both an individual and company-wide perspective.
In October 2020, JPMorgan Chase announced a new $30 billion commitment over five years to advance racial equity.
The commitment includes public policy efforts toward addressing key drivers of the racial wealth divide, reducing system racism against Black and Latinx communities, and supporting its employees.
As one of the oldest, largest and best-known global leaders in financial services, the commitments will include loans, equity and direct funding to underserved communities, diverse businesses, improve financial health and access to banking, and accelerate investment in its employees, ultimately building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.
“We try to get involved in all levels,” said Dimon.
Another one of the areas in which Black, Latinx and other underserved communities of color face disparities is in housing.
More recently in June 2021, JP Morgan Chase announced a new five-year, $400 million commitment — as part of the overall $30 billion commitment — to address and improve the housing affordability gap.
“A lot of Americans, their wealth is created through their home,” said Dimon, noting that the Black and Latinx communities statistically have less home ownership and home equity than the White community.
This effort will include low-cost loans and grants targeted to nonprofits and organizations in the affordable housing space, creating more pathways to affordable and sustainable homeownership, and making data-driven policy recommendations.
Dimon underscored how racial inequities play a role in many people of color having low or no credit scores, adding a barrier to taking out a loan or getting a home mortgage, which is why data is so critical: to find ways to make it more accessible.
He also noted that much of the issue can also be solved through governmental institutions, such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
“We work with them, too,” said Dimon. “What can we do to make more good loans for Black and Latino people who wouldn’t under traditional methods have availability to mortgages.”
He further explained that government policy has made mortgages less affordable, which disproportionately hurts lower-paid and communities of color, making this work very critical.
JP Morgan Chase has served customers in Philadelphia for over 148 years.
In 2018, Chase began its market expansion efforts in Philadelphia, and in three years has opened 55 branches across the Greater Philadelphia region (consisting of Southeast PA, Philadelphia, Delaware Valley and Pittsburgh markets), with plans to have 64 branches open by the end of the year.
“Business is growing,” said Dimon, noting that the results of the planned expansion are going even better than expected.
In Philadelphia, two new branches opened this year, bringing the total to 14, with plans to open a 15th by the end of 2022.
“We’re an ambitious bank, and we want to increase our market share over time,” added Dimon. “That will probably mean more branches in Philadelphia.”
The commitment to the Philadelphia market has a long history and continued commitment in the Greater Philadelphia region.
Over the years, Chase has given $260.4 million in financing to Pennsylvania small businesses, invested $5.3 million into the region with local organizations and nonprofits, $100,000 to the Urban League to begin working on racial equity in Philadelphia and much more.
In an announcement on Oct. 14, Chase revealed it will commit $8.4 million as part of its $400 million to improving household stability for Black, Latinx, and underserved households.
As a result, six organizations across the U.S. will receive philanthropic capital to address this issue.
One of the organizations is Philadelphia-based Community Legal Services, which will receive $1.5 million over three years to expand its program design and build capacity to alter the eviction landscape in Philadelphia.
It will do so by combining three initiatives: eviction alternatives, right to counsel and eviction record screening protections.