Banks and other financial institutions in recent years have committed to enhance financial inclusion and lending. Over the past few weeks our ESG Safeguard platform has revealed an increase in these activities, so our analysis explores their commitments vs actions in their financial inclusion initiatives and internal diversity goals.
With so much focus on inflation recently it is easy to lose sight of the social initiatives that banks have committed to in recent years to enhance financial inclusion and lending, as well as improve diversity internally. This week we examine that lens on our ESG Safeguard platform to see what banks have said or done recently in this area.
In 2020 Bank of America (BAC:US) announced a $1B commitment over four years towards reducing systemic inequality. Last week they allocated another $100 M for minority depository institutions. Currently they have $42.5 M invested in Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and $450 M invested in organizations that lend to minority and women owned businesses.
We covered Bank of America and some of the others last year and haven’t seen much activity when it comes to financial inclusion until recently. While Bank of America has made strides in improving wages, it is good to see follow up on the financial inclusion measures as well.
Last month, Citigroup (C:US) set diversity goals for 2025 to increase the percentage of Black and female employees in leadership positions, building upon goals the firm met for this year. New goals include the following metrics: a 3.5% for new hires from the LGBTQ community, 11% of leadership positions to be filled by Black employees, and 43.5% of leadership positions to be filled by women. Currently 2.1% of new hires are from the LGBTQ community, 8% of leadership roles are filled by Black employees and 40.6% of leadership positions are filled by women.
Last year, Citi hired four Black-owned firms to help distribute their $2.5 B social inclusion bond. More recently, in March, the bank added new sustainability-minded banking units. While the diversity targets are great, it would be nice to see more transparency around the social inclusion bond they issued and where that money is being disbursed.
Mastercard (MA:US) has signed recent partnerships with governments and companies to increase financial inclusion. We took a look at Mastercard last year when they launched new initiatives focused on increasing digital and financial inclusion, specifically in Africa. This month they launched a new partnership with Cellulant, a one-stop payment portal for African businesses as part of their initiative to increase economic participation. Also this month, outside of Africa, Mastercard signed an agreement with the government of Honduras
Last month, Mastercard joined the Economic Opportunity Coalition, led by the White House to promote financial inclusion in America. Over the summer, Mastercard had similar initiatives in the Philippines and Indonesia, reiterating that the company sees small businesses as the future of growth in global payments services.
At the start of 2022 PNC (PNC:US) committed $88 B over four years to advance economic equity through expanding mortgages, small business loans, and community investments. This month PNC announced that $17.4 B of that has already been allocated. The breakdown of the total is $13.3 B for expanding home ownership through mortgages, $2.7 B for lending to minority small businesses, and $1.33 B for economic and community development. PNC has also been working with historically black colleges and universities since 2020 to advance economic opportunities and entrepreneurship in minority communities.
One of the first steps to creating a more inclusive economy is making sure that there is fair lending and access to capital. Traditionally, that has not been the case. Ensuring that communities which have historically been marginalized when it comes to finance, receive access to capital, goes a long way in correcting these issues. Furthermore, it is good business for the banks to have more people involved in the financial system using their products and services. When there is more participation in the economy it helps everyone by creating a more diverse, dynamic, and competitive economic landscape.
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This communication does not represent investment advice. Transcript text provided by FACTSET and S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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