More than 55 advocacy groups demand bank CEOs address discrepancies in statements against discriminatory practices and lobbying actions

Led by Rise Economy, an alliance of more than 55 community, civil rights, and climate advocacy groups united to send a letter to bank CEOs, urging them to address the discrepancies between their public statements and the litigation and lobbying activities conducted on their behalf by banking trade associations. 

The letter, specifically addressed to the CEOs of major banks such as JP Morgan Chase, US Bank, and City National Bank, is a direct and renewed call for these financial institutions to align their actions with their stated racial, social and environmental justice commitments. Examples of this include JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon, who, in 2020, said “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way” while announcing a $30 billion pledge to “advance racial equity.” Citibank and Bank of America made similar pledges. 

“We are deeply concerned about the ongoing legal challenges and lobbying efforts by banking trade associations that undermine key civil rights, consumer protection, and climate initiatives,” said Kevin Stein, Rise Economy Chief of Legal and Strategy. “These actions directly oppose the principles these banks claim to support, such as fighting discrimination, closing the racial wealth gap, and addressing climate change.”

The letter highlights the concerning legal actions taken by banking trade associations in recent years, such as filing lawsuits against updates to the Community Reinvestment Act and California’s important climate disclosure laws. These lawsuits, brought by groups like the American Bankers Association and the California Chamber of Commerce, threaten to reverse crucial protections and efforts to help underserved communities and address climate change.

The letter asks, “Are you on the side of justice, equity, and sustainability, or will you continue to support actions that harm the very communities they claim to serve?”

The letter also recommends that banks conduct a thorough audit of their lobbying activities and trade association memberships and outlines steps banks can take to rectify these misalignments between public statements and lobbying actions, such as evaluating trade association memberships and developing action plans. 

This is the second such letter sent to bank CEOs by Rise Economy and its allies. The first letter was sent to more than 40 bank CEOs in the fall of 2023. Only 10 banks responded to that letter.

“Rise Economy and its allies are committed to holding banks accountable and ensuring their lobbying and litigation activities do not undermine efforts to rebuild an economy that works for all,” Paulina Gonzalez-Brito, Rise Economy’s Chief Executive Officer. “We need banks to move beyond positive pronouncements and take concrete steps to ensure their actions support, rather than undermine, efforts to uphold consumer rights and address systemic inequities. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words.”

The following banks received the first letter: Amalgamated Bank, Beneficial State Bank, BMO Harris, Capital One, Citibank, Cathay Bank, East West Bank, HomeStreet, Pacific Premier Bank, PNC, and U.S. Bank. The following banks did not respond to our initial letter: American Momentum Bank BankFirst, Banc of CA, Bank of Hope, California Bank and Trust, Charles Schwab Bank, Citizens Business Bank, City National Bank, Columbia Bank, Comerica Bank, Community Bank of the Bay, Deutsche Bank, First Citizens Bank, Flagstar Bank, Frost Bank, Goldman Sachs, Hancock Whitney Bank, Heritage Bank, HSBC Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Lending Club, Luther Burbank Savings, Mechanics Bank, Morgan Stanley, Pacific Western Bank, Prosperity Bank, SoFi Bank, Square Financial Services, Tri Counties Bank, Washington Federal Bank, Wells Fargo, and Zions Bank.

Download the Letter→

 

Media Contact:
Brian M. Maxey, bmaxey@rise-economy.org                                                                                   

 

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About Rise Economy
Rise Economy, formerly the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), is a member-led alliance focused on creating a more equitable society where Black, Indigenous and People of Color have access to resources and opportunities to build generational wealth. As the largest statewide community reinvestment alliance in the country, Rise Economy advocates for policies and practices that promote racial and economic justice and address the root causes of inequality, redlining and systemic racism. Learn more about Rise Economy.