JP Morgan Announces Investment in DEI Initiatives

Majo James, Staff Writer

From its inception, the United States has held back marginalized groups through unfair practices and systemic discrimination. Racists, either on behalf of or enabled by the government, have acted in ways that slowed or stopped the development of Black and brown communities, such as the Tulsa race massacre. Even today, according to, white households have 6.7 times more wealth on average than Black households. It is to combat this wealth inequality that JPMorgan has declared a $30 billion investment towards DEI efforts. 

But first, it is important to define DEI. It is an acronym often seen around campus, yet it is something that a startling number of students do not understand. The term “DEI” stands for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Diversity is the act of intentionally assuring that various perspectives are recognized and contribute towards conversation and action. Equity is, as Linda Coleman, the director of CASA, said, “Meeting you where you are, to get you where you need to be.” It differs from equality in that not everyone needs the same resources to succeed. Inclusion is making sure that all voices in the conversation feel respected and acknowledged. 

On Oct. 17, representatives from JPMorgan arrived at the University to explain the investment and its repercussions. The panel consisted of Khamala Erskine, Noreen Henriquez, Dr. Chandra Williams, Jac Rivers (all four of whom are women of color), Josué Figueroa, Kevin Grubb and Neil Horgan (Villanova’s CFO). 

The $30 billion is diverted into three categories: $26 billion towards affordable housing and home ownership, $2 billion for Black and brown business lending and another $2 billion towards philanthropic capital. After previous experience in Detroit, JPMorgan concluded that philanthropic contributions alone are not enough to combat inequality and that investments must be made towards businesses. The money that goes towards affordable housing is also incredibly important, as research has proven Black and brown people are denied mortgages at a much higher rate than white people. 

The money will be used keeping three pillars in mind: people, presence and product. JPMorgan will strive to be a bridge to the local community, providing complimentary financial help, educating, business mentoring and home lending advisors. They are also setting up community centers with WiFi capabilities, meeting rooms and interview rooms for anyone who needs to meet clients but doesn’t have a space of their own, cost-free. 

JPMorgan will identify minority business owners through branch referrals and community events in order to work with them, analyze their business and identify what they are doing well and what can be improved. Along with the other resources available to them, they will seek to help these businesses that may have the capital but not the credit to get off their feet. 

But how does all this relate to Villanova? Two years ago, the University’s contract with its previous bank expired and embarked on a search for another with similar values to our own. Villanova’s “Rooted Restless” plan had been recently declared, a major part of which are DEI efforts. It was also around then that JPMorgan had announced its own DEI commitment with this investment. With all this in mind, the University identified JPMorgan as its institutional bank for the years to come. 

This partnership offers students exciting career opportunities, with a special focus on historically underrepresented groups who can connect with people with more career experience and enter a DEI friendly workplace. JPMorgan has set up and will continue to set up coffee chats to connect with students from various backgrounds and give them an idea of what it is like to work for JPMorgan. 

The cooperation between Villanova and JPMorgan even influences business practices. As previously stated, the University realized the importance of looking at all aspects of potential business partners, looking beyond just meeting necessities and instead broader goals like DEI. As Neil Horgan said, JPMorgan Chase introduced the idea of doing business with underrepresented business owners. As a result, Villanova is now more focused on proactively going out and identifying those groups to compete for the University’s business. 

JPMorgan’s $30 billion investment is an incredible example that other corporate goliaths should imitate. With the wealth and resources at the disposal of the biggest companies on the planet, real good can be done and lives can be touched. However, as admirable as JPMorgan’s efforts are, one must keep in mind that a corporate entity is ultimately propelled by profit and that without systemic change, lasting and meaningful equity will not follow.