JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's letter on anti-Asian hate is a great example of bold, anti-racist leadership

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JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon's letter on anti-Asian hate is a great example of bold, anti-racist leadership
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon pledged that the firm would look into ways to better support Asian and Pacific Islander communities.Getty/Win McNamee
  • One day after six Asian women were killed in a shooting rampage, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon sent a letter to all 255,000 of his employees.
  • The letter condemned the spike in violence against the Asian and Pacific Island community.
  • Public relations experts said the timing, tone, and content of the memo served as an example for other leaders looking to speak out.

Eight people, including six Asian women, were killed on Tuesday in a shooting rampage at three Atlanta-area spas.

On Wednesday, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon sent an email to the company's 255,000 employees to address the attacks and the disturbing trend in violence against Asian and Pacific Islander (API) people.

The alleged shooter, Robert Aaron Long, a white man, told police that race was not his motive, which law enforcement officials conveyed during a press conference Wednesday. But many say it's the latest incident in a string of anti-Asian attacks since the start of the pandemic.

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One recent study based on police department statistics across major US cities found a 150% surge in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. Separate data from the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council showed over 2,800 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate between March and December of last year.

Dimon spoke out against racism and racial injustice amid the police-killing of George Floyd and later announced JPMorgan's $30 billion commitment to racial equity.

Public relations experts say his latest statement serves as an example for other leaders looking to speak out against hate.

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A swift response

The subject line attached to Dimon's email was simple and clear, "Enough is enough."

He acknowledged the spike in anti-API violence and then wrote, "These racist acts cannot - and will not - be tolerated." PR veteran LaToya Evans said Dimon got the timing and tone right in his memo.

"He quickly addresses the reality that violence against the Asian and Pacific Islander community has increased since the pandemic," Evans said.

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Dimon did not wait for details around the shooting to unfold to address the larger climate of hate. Instead, he responded swiftly to make sure employees knew where he stood.

"I think there is a danger in staying silent for racially charged events, simply because, at the very minimum, employees want to know that they are supported and that they are safe in their work environment," Evans told Insider in August.

The right tone

"We stand strong against bias," Dimon continued in his memo. "These events are impacting our colleagues, families, friends, and partners in the API community. If you are experiencing or see something that concerns you, please report it here."

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The fact that Dimon took the time to issue a formal statement, as opposed to the organization simply tweeting out a one-line message is significant, PR expert Sara Brady said.

"It shows an authentic and meaningful mindset and culture," she said.

Both Brady and Evans agreed that Dimon's memo expressed a tone of sincere empathy and concern for his employees' well-being.

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"He addresses the feelings and potential fear of the API community," Evans said.

Dimon also shared resources to get help for employees in the memo. "The most effective thing a leader can do is speak out, condemn violent actions, and then take action for customers, employees, and partners by providing resources, and this memo has done all of that," Evans continued.

The CEO also pledged to take future action to support the API community.

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"We are reviewing additional steps the firm can take to support the Asian community. In the coming weeks and months, we will host a series of events focusing on hate crime and cultural awareness, the impact of COVID-19, and the Future of Work for the Asian community," he wrote.

Many leaders publish supportive statements in the wake of racially charged events, Evans said, but Dimon "continues to deliver action and resources when it comes to fighting injustice."

Read the full memo here:

Enough is enough

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On behalf of all of my partners on the Operating Committee: since the start of the global pandemic, countless violent and verbal attacks have occurred against members of the global Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community. On streets, online and in many Asian-owned small businesses, we are seeing physical assault, verbal harassment and refusal of service. Just last night, eight people were killed in the Atlanta area, six of whom were Asian. These racist acts cannot - and will not - be tolerated.

We are equally saddened that more vulnerable populations are being targeted - youth, elderly and women are experiencing the brunt of the attacks.

These events are impacting our colleagues, families, friends and partners in the API community. If you are experiencing or see something that concerns you, please report it here.

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We stand strong against bias. We are reviewing additional steps the firm can take to support the Asian community. In the coming weeks and months, we will host a series of events focusing on hate crime and cultural awareness, the impact of COVID-19 and the Future of Work for the Asian community.

As leaders and employees, we encourage you to make your voices heard, use the Inclusion Toolkit to discuss these events in real time with your colleagues and take advantage of the Employee Assistance Program for personal support.

Our fight for fair treatment and equity is not for any one group - it's for all. We condemn racism in any form and, with fierce determination, stand united to defend equity, diversity and inclusion for all communities.

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Jamie

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