U.S. Bank provides update on commitment to addressing economic inequities

July 15, 2021

On June 5, 2020, in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis, U.S. Bank announced several initiatives to address social and economic inequities, including a $116 million investment to help close the 10:1 racial wealth gap, which affects all U.S. households and creates a 4-6 percent drag on the GDP.* U.S. Bank recently shared that it has made significant progress through its initial investments, creating jobs, providing capital and assistance to small businesses, and increasing development opportunities for employees of color.

The U.S. Bank Good Truck partnered with Confectionately Yours, a fresh baker located in the Sherman Phoenix neighborhood, to provide treats to first responders in 2020, including the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee Fire Department.

In February 2021, U.S. Bank introduced the U.S. Bank Access Commitment, a long-term program focused on building wealth and a different approach to serving diverse communities and identifying opportunities for diverse employees. Through this new program, U.S. Bank supports businesses owned by people of color, helping individuals and communities to advance financially and enhance career opportunities by creating a sustainable, inclusive and equitable work environment with leadership development opportunities for all employees

One of the first tenets of the Access Commitment was a $25 million U.S. Bank Access Fund, supporting more than 30,000 micro-businesses owned by women of color. The fund includes long term investments of grants and capital funding for three partners: the African American Alliance of CDFI CEOs, Grameen America and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

The comprehensive fund builds on the bank’s initial $116 million investments which includes $100 million in additional capital to Black-owned businesses, double Black suppliers, $15 million Rebuild and Transform fund and $1 million in grants to Black-led Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

U.S. Bank awarded $700,000 to its partners as part of the Rebuild and Transform fund right here in the Milwaukee Community with grants to: Riverworks, Acts Housing, Running Rebels, Housing Resources Inc., Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, the Milwaukee Urban League, and the United Community Center.

These partners work collaboratively implementing financial coaching, housing stabilization and new home ownership opportunities along with workforce advancement programming. U.S. Bank has listened to its community partners and trusted in their guidance of these investments to address the critical community needs we are faced with today and begin to address long term systems change. While philanthropy can’t solve these challenges alone, U.S. Bank believes funding access to capital for critical financial coaching, housing and home ownership, workforce advancement and other critical programming will begin to address the economic disparities that have challenged so many for too long. “We have deep seeded relationships with our nonprofit partners across the country and look to their expertise to help guide our critical investments in communities,” said Suzanne Zwaska, vice president of community affairs for U.S. Bank in Wisconsin.

“We have learned so much during the past 12 months and have truly changed how we work as an organization,” said Greg Cunningham, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer for U.S. Bank. “The entire company and people from every area of the business are now part of the solution. Our goal is to achieve economic inclusion, bringing our core competency as a bank to help address the wealth disparities, and underlying systemic problems that prevent economic mobility for everyone. There is so much yet to do.”

Supporting Local Businesses

U.S. Bank is working to build on supplier diversity though local partnerships and one of its initiatives was the Business Snapshots video in partnership with Johnson Media Consulting. U.S. Bank and Johnson Media Consulting worked to virtually showcase a series of minority businesses impacted by the pandemic and social unrest occurring in the Milwaukee area. Check out the videos https://www.linkedin.com/company/johnson-media-consulting-llc/videos.

Courageous Conversations

In addition to our community investments, U.S. Bank has also been working hard to listen and learn from its employees. In Milwaukee, the Market Leader Nina Johnson created “Circles,” a program designed to bring local employees together for the purpose of courageous conversations in a safe space. Circles gave the employees an opportunity to speak transparently to a small group of fellow bankers about the impact civil unrest and the pandemic were having on their daily activities. No topics were off limits and the only rule was to respect everyone’s perspectives within their small group. The initiative was originally created for one department, but the concept resonated with several business lines, creating a greater level of diversity of thought.

Participants ranged from tellers to commercial banking executives, all with the sole purpose of trying to gain a perspective on what was occurring, how to unpack varying points of view and acknowledging that no one had all the answers. The goal was simply to listen, work together on coming to a mutual level of understanding and developing the tools needed to address customers with varying perspectives as needed. Topics ranged from intersectionality to microaggressions in the workplace. The initiative also included quarterly guest speakers and resources from organizations such as Catalyst, Inc. and McKinsey & Co. This Fall, Circles will become one of several initiatives launched by Johnson and fellow market leaders throughout U.S. Bank’s national footprint.

The bank’s Midwest Regional Executive Steve Saloutos also launched a new initiative for emerging women in its Consumer and Business Banking Department called ASPIRE, a career development program designed to mentor and prepare the next generation of female leaders in banking for senior leadership. “When we take time to listen to each other, we become great leaders and even better human beings,” said Johnson.

In the Community

Over the summer, U.S. Bank will be partnering with the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Milwaukee Brewers on the #MyMandela67 pledge. A series of events and initiatives focused on Nelson Mandela International Day, July 18. The My Mandela Challenge encourages volunteers to spend 67 minutes of service to others, as a way to give back to the community. The 67 minutes represents 67 years that Nelson Mandela spent fighting for social justice. As part of U.S. Bank Milwaukee’s sponsorship, its employees donate 67 hours of volunteer time this summer.

Digital Banking

“Digital has become a key component of U.S. Bank’s customer focused strategy and it has provided customers with the fiscal resources needed to complement their lifestyles. U.S. Bank’s digital banking technology is one of the most important aspects of banking that will revolutionize the financial services industry for years to come. Knowing that our bankers can virtually meet with their retail or business banker via mobile application was a timely solution at the height of the pandemic and it continues to set us apart when serving our customers today,” said Johnson.

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* 2017 Federal Reserve Report

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