Taking Action to Close the Racial Wealth Gap
By Jane Fraser, President of Citi & CEO of Global Consumer Banking and Paco Ybarra, CEO of Citi's Institutional Clients Group September 23, 2020 08:00 AM
The most successful organizations stand for a clear set of values. Citi is no exception. But here's what we must recognize: just talking about our values and putting them in a pretty font on our website is one thing. Actually living them, promoting them and protecting them is entirely different. Ensuring the communities we serve are fair and inclusive is a core part of Citi's mission of enabling growth and progress. But when you listen to the calls for racial justice echoing across the United States this year, it's clear that more of the same won't do.
It's not enough to see racism, we have to root it out. It's not enough to declare support for equity, we have to lead. Yes, philanthropy is vital – and this year alone, we have given over $10 million to Black-led organizations fighting for racial justice. But we can't ignore the role our own industry has played in contributing to racial disparities and we can't forget that the biggest difference we can make comes from the work we do day in and day out. It's our talent. It's our energy. It's the investments we make and the advice we provide. It's the reach and resources we enjoy as a global bank. Which all begs the question…
How do we harness Citi's capabilities and influence to build a more fair and inclusive society?
This is the challenge we've been focusing on since June, when Mike Corbat tasked both of our businesses with devising solutions that respond to our national reckoning on race. Today, after assessing how we can improve the ways we do business, we are unveiling a set of initiatives to help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility in the U.S. We are calling this sweeping approach Action for Racial Equity. We hope it will be a guiding light for our company and inform and add to our work for years to come.
The initiatives that make up Action for Racial Equity attack the barriers that impede communities of color from building generational wealth. To begin, we'll work with trusted community partners to make low-cost, high-quality banking products available to racially diverse households and put one million underserved kids on the path to college savings. By expanding the Citi Impact Fund and increasing our annual spend on diverse suppliers, we will help more Black entrepreneurs get the financing they need to start and grow their businesses. We're going to tackle the homeownership crisis in communities of color by increasing access to mortgages and by supporting minority developers who are building affordable and workforce housing. And we're going to take a hard look at our own policies and practices to make sure we are always treating every community equitably and are living up to our commitment to becoming an anti-racist institution.
Combined, these initiatives reflect $1 billion in strategic investments over the next three years. And that's just the beginning. By changing the ways we work for the long term and by setting an example for others to follow, we expect capital from all directions to flow into minority-owned businesses and communities of color. Just think, if we could close the racial wealth gap today, we would add $5 trillion to the U.S. GDP over the next five years. Everyone wins. And that goes to the heart of why so many of us joined Citi in the first place – to improve lives, help our communities thrive and change the world.