- JPMorgan Chase is changing a policy that concerns how it responds to customers who use racist language in their interactions with call-center employees.
- The bank's previous procedure for handling abusive, threatening or distressed clients didn't explicitly include racial slurs as a form of abuse, nor did it address racism specifically, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. Call-center workers are trained to ask customers to stop acting out and hang up if they don't, they said.
- The nation's largest bank has focused on race as an area of improvement this year, after a December report from The New York Times exposed racial discrimination by bank employees toward Black customers in an Arizona branch. JPMorgan Chase said in March it is making diversity training mandatory for all employees and will pay more attention to employee complaints.
The national focus on racial inequality has intensified since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. Since then, banks and payment companies such as Bank of America, PNC, U.S. Bank and PayPal have pledged billions of dollars toward boosting loans to Black-owned businesses, neighborhood revitalization and programs concerning health, jobs and housing in area with high numbers of nonwhites.
The fight has become more personal at JPMorgan Chase, which in February was sued by a group of Black personal bankers who claimed they were assigned to lower-performing or lower-income branches, and that the bank's practice of "open race matching and racial steering" put Black bankers in line for lower pay, fewer advancement opportunities and more safety issues than their white counterparts.
JPMorgan Chase has cut ties with at least four customers who were racially abusive to call-center employees in the two weeks after Floyd’s killing, Kisha Porch, who leads the bank’s call center in Tempe, Arizona, told Bloomberg.
"We've had examples where our customers have been inappropriate, calling specialists names, using terms that are derogatory as it relates to race," Porch said, adding that she, too, has been the target of racism from customers. "If those are escalated to me and if need to be, we will end a relationship with a customer."
Once calls are brought to a supervisor's attention, a team of senior managers can review the interaction and argue for the bank to end the customer relationship if the client's behavior doesn’t align with company values.
"We know many people internalize those kinds of attacks. We do not want them doing that," Tom Horne, chief operating officer for card services at the bank, told Bloomberg. "We are specifically calling out race to remind specialists that we will exit customer relationships when warranted regardless of how much money the customer has with us. These are customers we don't need or want."
Some high-profile executives outside banking are taking a similar stance. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos posted on Instagram this month his response to an email from a customer using racist language to mark his disagreement with Bezos' support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. "You’re the kind of customer I’m happy to lose," Bezos wrote on the social media platform.