Banks Need More Diverse Boards, Management, New Report Finds

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Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Coordinator, 510-926-4022; 415-846-7758 (cell)

Most Boards Overwhelmingly White and Male; Citi Most Diverse

Major bank boards of directors remain overwhelmingly white and male, reports The Greenlining Institute in its latest study of bank board diversity, being released Thursday morning. Focused on nine major institutions with a major California presence, Greenlining found that Citi’s board was most diverse, while eight of nine boards were at least 80 percent white and 80 percent male. Five banks had zero Latino representation, four had no Asian Americans, and two had no African Americans.

People of color also tended to be seriously underrepresented in high-level management positions.

“We’re strongly urging banks to diversify their boards and upper management, not just for diversity’s sake, but because they’re missing opportunities,” said report author Preeti Vissa, Greenlining’s community reinvestment director. “Communities of color are already the majority in California and will be nationally in the foreseeable future, and their buying power is growing. Projections for 2014 point to over $3 trillion in buying power for the combined African American, Asian American and Latino communities.

“Diverse leadership can help financial institutions tap into this enormous market,” Vissa added. “And given the disproportionate impact of predatory lending in communities of color, having board members with connections to these communities might help discourage such practices.”

The report urges banks to proactively interview diverse candidates for leadership positions and aim for at least 40 percent overall board diversity, with at least one African American, Asian American and Latino member.

The full report is available online here.