JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon publicly defended voting rights, following Georgia’s new restrictive voting law, the Election Integrity Act of 2021. He was one of the first major business CEOs to speak out after the law was passed last week, according to CNN.
“We regularly encourage our employees to exercise their fundamental right to vote, and we stand against efforts that may prevent them from being able to do so,” the JPMorgan CEO told CNN.
The law requires ID numbers for absentee ballots, limits the use of ballot drop boxes, and bans people from providing food and water to voters in line. The law will likely impact Democratic districts and voters of color.
JP Morgan has more than 250,000 employees globally, and Dimon added, the company’s “employees span the United States and as state capitals debate election laws, we believe voting must be accessible and equitable.”
On Thursday, JPMorgan announced a new wave of investments as part of its $30 billion commitment to lift up Black, Latinx, and other underserved communities. Latinx is a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina to describe people of Latin American descent.
The plan, which was announced in October of last year, appears to be the largest US corporate commitment to racial equity in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, according to Insider research.
The latest round will focus on Black and brown entrepreneurs and small business owners, according to the financial giant.
“We look at diversity and inclusion as a business,” Brian Lamb, JPMorgan’s global head of diversity and inclusion, told Insider. “We want to drive sustainable change.”
The firm said it would commit $300 million to support underserved small businesses and an additional $42.5 million to its “Entrepreneurs of Color Fund,” a program that supports Black and brown founders.
The pandemic has devastated small businesses, especially those owned by people of color.
Black-owned businesses were more than twice as likely as their white counterparts to have closed during the pandemic, according to an August 2020 national study by the New York Fed. Some 41% of Black-owned businesses closed, and 32% of Latinx-owned businesses closed. Meanwhile, white-owned businesses fell by just 17%.
In addition, JPMorgan will be opening new branches, called “Chase Lounges,” in underserved areas including Harlem, New York, Chicago, and Atlanta. These branches will have resources for entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their companies.
The news follows JPMorgan’s announcement from earlier this week that it would invest $40 million in minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). MDIs and CDFIs provide financial services in communities that are often underserved.
In October, the firm said it would commit $8 billion to help 40,000 Black and Latinx households access mortgages. The firm said it will help an additional 20,000 achieve lower mortgage payments by providing up to $4 billion in refinancing loans over the next five years.
Over the next five years, JPMorgan said it will finance 100,000 affordable rental units by providing $14 billion in new loans and equity investments, among other efforts.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Black, Hispanic, and Native American households are more likely than white households to be low-income renters, meaning there is a severe lack of affordable homes available to them.
“We’re going to track and report on our progress towards these commitments and ultimately hold our most senior level leaders accountable to the progress,” Lamb said.