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In celebration of Black History Month, we sat down with Byna Elliott, global head of Advancing Black Pathways at JPMorgan Chase, to discuss what Black History Month means to her, how the firm is advancing racial equity and Elliott’s goals for 2023.
What does Black History Month mean to you and how are you celebrating?
Black History Month is just that – a celebration and recognition of the reach, depth, and richness of the Black community’s global history ― as well as its connection and intersection across others. I’m celebrating by participating in events uplifting that history and recognizing the changemakers among the community.
How is JPMorgan Chase making an impact to advance racial equity?
Diversity, equality and inclusion have been an important part of the culture at JPMorgan Chase and we wanted to take a look at what else we can be doing. While our work to advance racial equity has been longstanding, in October 2020, we made a $30 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equity that took a look at additional ways to address affordable housing, small business, financial health, among other critical financial needs within unbanked and underbanked communities.
We’ve opened 14 Community Center branches – locally-inspired and built with extra space to host free community events and financial health workshops – across the country and hired nearly 150 Community Managers who connect community members with the resources we’ve created to support financial health education, first-time homebuyer education, and many other resources.
We also have a dedicated team of certified Senior Business Consultants around the country who provide free one-on-one coaching and advice to local Black, Hispanic, Latino and underbanked small business owners on everything from boosting creditworthiness to managing cash flow to effective marketing. Additionally, Chase Home Lending Advisors are available across the U.S. – whether you want to click, call, or visit in-branch – to help you prepare for homeownership, including identifying the right financing solutions and any down payment/housing assistance available.
How should other companies and individuals be thinking about advancing racial equity?
We all can make an effort to help advance racial equity within our community – including by investing in or shopping with local diverse-owned businesses, supporting philanthropic efforts in our community, and participating in community events.
Consider looking for diverse initiatives and business resource groups within your company that focus on supporting underserved or underrepresented communities and asking if there are opportunities to support those initiatives or groups. For instance, JPMorgan Chase’s Advancing Black Pathways initiative works to support the economic empowerment of the Black community globally. Through our Global Supplier Diversity program, we’re using our purchasing power to build economic equity in diverse communities, foster the success of underrepresented business owners, and promote equity, inclusion and sustainability across the wider business community. We also have initiatives focused on other communities, and business resource groups that share our company commitment to equity and equality and create opportunities for employees to be engaged.
What are your goals for this year, and/or, what are you looking forward to in 2023?
I’m looking forward to building upon the success of Advancing Black Pathways, including taking our learnings since the initiative launched in 2019 and applying them to our work in communities globally. Last year, we added team members in Latin America and in the U.K., and I’m excited to work with them to ultimately support the economic development of communities in the respective regions. I’m also excited about continuing to reach as many people as we can with the resources and information created by JPMorgan Chase to support their overall financial health and dreams for the future.