Jamie Dimon's latest shareholder letter outlines 5 ways JPMorgan is trying to improve diversity after its 2019 discrimination scandal

jamie dimon

  • Jamie Dimon's annual letter to JPMorgan Chase shareholders was published Monday.
  • While it focused primarily on the coronavirus pandemic's effect on the financial institution, it also included a section about the company's diversity and inclusion efforts.
  • The section acknowledges a 2019 report by the New York Times alleging racial discrimination at the bank.
  • The company's co-COOs, Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith, outlined five ways the bank is working to boost diversity and inclusion, which could provide a model for other companies.
  • This article is part of Business Insider's ongoing series on Better Capitalism.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In his annual letter to shareholders, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon focused primarily on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the company and the economy.

However, he also dedicated a full section to the company's diversity and inclusion efforts, following a 2019 report from The New York Times titled "This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry." The article alleged employee and customer racial discrimination at the financial institution.Advertisement

Dimon's letter featured a section written by the bank's co-COOs Daniel Pinto and Gordon Smith, acknowledging the incident:

"As you know, after the media reported on alleged discrimination in our firm last year, Jamie asked Gordon to lead an internal team to take a hard look at how we do business so that we could gain a deeper understanding of what more we can do to root out racism and discrimination anywhere it exists," the letter reads.

"As a result, we've identified a number of areas that, with enhanced, scaled or new programming or processes, would serve to improve our culture in important ways."
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In The New York Times article, a JPMorgan employee and a customer shared secretly recorded conversations they had with bank employees. One conversation showed how a prospective customer for Chase Private Client, the firm's elite banking option for wealthy individuals, was turned away because of his race. Another showed an employee's racism toward a black woman banking with the firm.

To be sure, Dimon added that the company hadn't been ignoring diversity and inclusion prior to the incident, writing, "I can assure you, it did not take one particular story to make us realize that a diverse and inclusive culture is important." Here are the five main ways the finance giant is working to improve its diversity and inclusion efforts, as outlined by Pinto and Smith. The financial institution's steps could provide a roadmap for any other company leader looking to make change within their business.Advertisement

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1. Improve employee feedback channels.

1. Improve employee feedback channels.

The bank is working on making it easier for employees and managers to escalate a complaint around diversity and inclusion issues, the co-COOs wrote.

"Feedback suggests that employees are not always clear on where to submit complaints, so we are working to identify where improvements are needed," the letter reads. "We will continue to strengthen these 'listening posts' and reporting channels in an effort to make sure every one of us feels safe and confident identifying and reporting inappropriate behavior."

Having multiple channels for employees to report problematic behavior, and making sure managers know to escalate problems, ensures everyone's voice is heard.

2. Make it easier for customers to access products and services.

2. Make it easier for customers to access products and services.

In the letter, Pinto and Smith wrote that leaders are "re-evaluating the qualification requirements for new product features and benefits" to ensure that all customers can access the same range of benefits and that there isn't any unconscious bias at play.

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3. Build a more robust, diverse talent pipeline.

3. Build a more robust, diverse talent pipeline.

The financial institution is expanding its efforts in recruiting diverse talent and will hold recruitment managers accountable, according to the letter.

"Over the past four years, we have increased the number of black professionals in our most senior ranks, with the number of black managing directors and executive directors up by more than 50 percent," the letter reads.

4. Institute company-wide diversity and inclusion training.

4. Institute company-wide diversity and inclusion training.

JPMorgan Chase is expanding its diversity and inclusion training. The company already has a number of bias trainings, such as unconscious bias training for branch managers. Now, however, all employees will have to undergo diversity and inclusion training, and at multiple times throughout their career, according to the letter.

Unconscious bias is prejudice against one group, or in favor of another group, that people may not even be aware they have. By calling out common instances of unconscious bias, people can be more educated to not make the same mistakes.

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5. Increase the number of diverse business partners the firm works with.

5. Increase the number of diverse business partners the firm works with.

The banking firm is also examining how it can partner with more businesses with diverse leaders.

"The diversity of the businesses we partner with across the firm is just as important as our employee diversity — from the small businesses to which we provide access to capital, to our asset managers, to our suppliers and to the companies we assist in bringing public," Pinto and Smith wrote.

Dimon ended the section of the letter underscoring that the company has work to do.

"We need to do more as a nation, and we have more to do as a firm," the CEO wrote.