How Bank of America is thinking about its $1 billion donation toward racial equity
The death of George Floyd reinvigorated a conversation around racial disparity in corporate America. Bank of America, the second largest U.S. bank by assets, is seeking to do the same.
“The whole incident with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor before that—these kinds of deaths were just so riveting and brought to the fore the importance and the emergency of the issues around racial injustice,” said Bank of America vice chairman Anne Finucane during Fortune’s virtual Brainstorm Health conference on Tuesday.
In a conversation with Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington and Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution Niall Ferguson, Finucane notes that while the bank previously worked toward dedicating $500 million a year to a racial equality program aimed at small businesses, affordable housing, jobs, and emergency health, that figure doubled to $1 billion to be spent over the next four years following the prominent deaths of Black citizens in the United States.
The death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparked a visceral, nationwide outcry against police brutality and a heightened awareness of racial inequalities within corporate America.
For companies, the incident has shone a spotlight on their promises of tackling racism on a corporate level. Giants including Citigroup and Netflix spoke out in support of Black lives following the incident.
Now the question is how to keep the momentum going. Finucane says BofA will be carefully measuring outcomes over time as they disburse that $1 billion. She hopes they will find outcomes include more affordable housing, better job creation—and in the meantime better race and gender diversity within BofA.
“Metrics are important. If you can’t measure it, how can you determine you’re doing better than a year before that?” she says.
More coverage on the intersection of race and business from Fortune:
- How Ben & Jerry’s activist history allows it to call out white supremacy and police brutality
- The enduring history of health care inequality for Black Americans
- The insurance case that helped end the slave trade
- Corporate Germany has a race problem—and a lack of data is not helping
- Insurance redlining is real—and it will hurt neighborhoods hit by looting