“Who inspires you? Is a question often asked of key leaders, especially those whose mission is to reshape company standards and re-commit company resources to support them. For Brian Lamb, Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at JP Morgan, it’s his father.
“If I think back to my family, my father was a schoolteacher all his life. And I saw him become a civil servant. I was inspired by him to make a difference, ”Lamb told Karen Webster.
This difference is exemplified by the $ 30 billion commitment known as the “Path Forward” that JP Morgan made last year to help advance economic opportunities for underserved communities. Lamb told Webster that current initiatives – focused on homeownership, credit, financial inclusion, and workforce diversity – are focused on Black and Latin communities and will span across the next five years.
Some of the measures include maintaining 100,000 affordable housing units in underserved communities, providing 40,000 additional home purchase loans for black and Latin households, and helping those same communities reduce mortgage payments through refinancing.
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“These are clear priorities that really align with our goal of helping employees, customers, customers and communities grow and prosper without leaving anyone behind,” Lamb said, adding that “he there is no quick fix “.
While the headlines herald the economic rebound, falling unemployment, and reopening stores and places, the rising tide hasn’t lifted everyone up – by far. According to Lamb, the pandemic has ravaged vulnerable populations and helped shine a light on some of the most glaring inequalities that are firmly entrenched in American life – including the American economy.
Lamb said dedicated efforts – including measurable metrics (with cutting edge technology in the mix) – can guide financial institutions (FIs) in bringing everything from checking accounts to homeownership to underserved communities. , improving financial inclusion and societies in general.
Part of that means JP Morgan needs to re-examine its own internal operations and find new ways to assess inclusion – where employees aren’t just representative of different demographics. As Lamb noted, there are ways to measure inclusion itself, even ways to use predictive analytics within the organization to understand employee sentiment and determine if they are happy in the workplace. their role.
Other programs involve getting policy makers at state and federal levels to consider legislation that could help accelerate investments targeted by JP Morgan (particularly reinvestment in communities and home ownership). The company also challenges its Fortune 500 level vendors to make changes to their own racial fairness practices. JP Morgan itself has pledged to spend $ 750 million with vendors Black and Latinx over the next few years.
In this context, Lamb said of JP Morgan, “we are focused on determination.”
In other news: JPMorgan to support minority-owned SMEs with $ 350 million pledge
Advancing racial equity – and the multiplier effect
Lamb said it was imperative to improve homeownership in the United States, where the gap between white families and families of color is larger than it has been since the 1960s. JP Morgan has hired loan counselors to serve these communities.
The result of an increased presence in these areas – both in terms of dollars spent by JP Morgan and physical presence – is a multiplier effect, Lamb said, where public-private partnerships can restore the local financial pillars of communities. minority interests, in particular for banks. .
With regard to the Black and Latinx banks, in particular, he said, “we’ve seen a lot of deterioration here and over the years, where we’ve lost a lot of these institutions that serve these same communities that have been. left behind “.
Designing investments in these minority-owned and targeted banks, he said, could create a multiplier of up to 10 times for every $ 10 million invested. These banks can use the capital to tailor their own services and products, partnering with local businesses to help them grow and hire more workers.
With a nod to the unbanked and underbanked population, said Lamb, “there is clearly a pent-up demand to provide convenient and inexpensive banking solutions, whether through digital means or in local markets.” .
Within these markets, JP Morgan is committed to helping one million people open low-cost savings and chequing accounts. Lamb pointed to secure banking products that could serve as a stepping stone to greater financial inclusion and could help users create credit.
“Many families, individuals, small businesses and consumers also need help making sound financial decisions,” he said, leading the company to set a goal of hiring 150 managers. community. To make radical changes, with multiplier effects, you have to intentionally focus on areas where a business can make a difference, Lamb said.
According to Lamb, a financial institution should make a difference by doing what it does best: increasing access to capital and homeownership, and creating more entrepreneurs who can start businesses and create new businesses. jobs.
As he told Webster: “There are things we’re built for, with a long-term vision that the next generation should be better off and have opportunities that those who came before them didn’t. . “