JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the US, is committing an additional $30bn over the next five years to various initiatives aimed at addressing wealth inequality, especially among traditionally underserved Black and Latino communities.

The company said in a statement that “structural barriers” in the US have created “profound racial inequalities” that have been “exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

And although JPMorgan did not specifically mention George Floyd, the backdrop is that the US has been gripped by soul-searching and protests ever since the unarmed African-American was killed by a white police officer during his arrest in Minneapolis in May.

“Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” said Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase.

“We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latin people,” he added. “It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”

JPMorgan’s financial commitment to get to the root causes of inequality amounts to a practical and multi-layered approach aimed at dealing with the barriers that have hindered many African-Americans and Latinos from buying property, launching a business or finding work.

Specifically, the bank has earmarked $14bn for new housing loans to African-American and Latino borrowers. In addition, $8bn is being made available to increase affordable housing and homeownership in underserved communities.

There is also $4bn for mortgage refinancing, $2bn for small business lending, $2bn in philanthropic capital and $750m to be spent with Black and Latino suppliers.

Furthermore, the bank promised to continue building a “more equitable and representative workforce” and will hold managers to account on that score.

Commenting on the announcement, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told CNBC: “I am heartened to see JPMorgan’s specific, measurable commitments that we believe will address decades of systemic racism toward Black communities – and will bolster the wellbeing of families across the country, as well as our collective economy.”

Sourced from JPMorgan Chase, CNBC