Top Stories

May 31, 2022


JPMorgan collects data on borrowers’ race in wealth gap push

Investment bank JPMorgan Chase has started to collect data on race and ethnicity from some borrowers as part of an effort aimed at addressing the racial wealth gap. Following George Floyd’s killing in 2020, JPMorgan pledged to spend $30 billion by the end of 2025 to address the racial wealth gap through initiatives including $14 billion in mortgages and small business loans for Black and Latino communities. The company said it also provided more than $221 million in project financing to Black-owned or -led developers of affordable housing in 2021. The bank hopes the data collection on race will help it to measure progress on how its projects specifically serve Black communities, developers and small business owners. (Financial Times)*  


Vanguard exec refuses to end new fossil fuel investments

The world’s second-largest asset manager Vanguard has refused to stop new investments in fossil fuel projects and end its support for coal, oil and gas production. Its chief executive said the group, which manages $8.1 trillion for more than 30 million investors, was determined to safeguard its clients from climate risks but this would not require it to end new commitments to fossil fuel industries. Vanguard’s chief executive stated that its “climate change is a material risk but it is only one factor in an investment decision. There is already a pensions crisis and we have to make sure that climate concerns do not make that even worse.” Currently, just 17% of Vanguard’s actively managed assets are aligned with net-zero by 2050. (Financial Times)*


Women’s promotions at financial services firms lag behind

New analysis by employment and partnership law specialist Fox & Partners has found that women still make up less than a quarter of senior promotions within financial services firms. An estimated 24% of senior level promotions and hires in the financial services sector in the past year were women. Despite some progress being made over the previous year, when women represented just 21% of new senior positions, the report states that gender parity appears to be a “long way off.” The research showed that male board directors at FTSE 350 financial services firms earned 66% more than women on those boards last year – £689,550 for male directors compared with £235,075 for women. The report calls for significant cultural changes to improve gender diversity within senior levels at financial services companies. (Personnel Today)


EU missed climate spend target, despite claiming it was met

The European Union missed its target to spend 20% of its pre-2020 budget on fighting climate change and overstated its green spending to claim that the goal had been met, according to the European Court of Auditors. The EU pledged to spend at least 20% of its 2014-2020 budget on measures to limit climate change, and by its own account hit that goal, spending €216 billion. However, auditors found that the EU had overstated its climate spending by at least €72 billion and the actual figure was likely closer to €144 billion, or 13% of the total budget. Agriculture subsidies made up 80% of the "climate" spending the auditors said was mislabelled. In response, the European Commission has stood by its assessment that the 20% target was met but accepted some auditors recommendations. (Reuters)


Amazon investor plastics review proposal narrowly fails to clear

E-commerce giant Amazon’s investor-led proposal to review its use of plastic won 49% support even as shareholders voted down all of the 15 resolutions at its annual general meeting. The plastic review was the only proposal that came close to reaching the 51% mark for approval. Investors opposed resolutions related to the treatment of workers and use of non-disclosure agreements. About 13% of the company’s voting stock is controlled by executive chairman Jeff Bezos, raising the bar for any effort to win a majority of investor support. The proposal for a report on whether Amazon cloud, surveillance and other capabilities contribute to human rights violation also won 40% support. Investor resolutions are non-binding, but companies often take some form of action if they receive backing of 30-40% of votes cast. (Reuters)

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