WASHINGTON (TND) — Democrat Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, said she was "eager to hear" an update from CEOs of the nation's largest banks on their companies' diversity and inclusion commitments made following the murder of George Floyd, even though the country is facing a recession and inflation is impacting Americans' ability to put food on the table.
As our nation's racial wealth gap widens, and black applicants and others continue to be discriminated against, I'm eager to hear about their efforts to ensure communities of color finally get fair opportunities to build generational wealth," Waters said during Wednesday's hearing. "The CEOs will be asked for an update on the diversity and inclusion commitments they made following the murder of George Floyd and details on additional measures they will take."
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, chair of the financial services subcommittee on oversight and investigations, took the chance to ask the CEOs how they will "atone" for slavery, arguing their banks had profited off enslaved people and done work with the Confederacy throughout their history.
First, Green asked the CEOs to raise their hands if they believed their banks had done enough to "atone" for their involvement in slavery.
Let the record reflect that no hand has been raised," Green noted.
Next question," the congressman continued. "Will you publicly publish an atonement plan on, or before your next appearance before the committee. You've indicated that you've not done enough, will you publish an atonement plan on or before your next visit. If so, raise your hand."
None of the CEOs raised their hands.
During the hearing, other Democrats also used their time in front of the CEOs to slam them about diversity and inclusion.
However, all of their questions and concerns come amid an increase in grocery prices that hasn't been seen in 43 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) August report. The same report showed core inflation was up over half a percent month-to-month, and top-line inflation grew 0.1%, which critics have argued shows inflation is not coming down.
Potentially even more dire, lenders are also now facing skyrocketing mortgage rates, which could cause home prices to explode.
I’m a bit worried people are being WAY too complacent about rising interest rates," Ed Conway, the economics editor for Australia's Sky News, tweeted. "They assume that because they’re so low now vs the 1990s, this’ll be a walk in the park. NO."
"Congressman Green asked you about the future, and that’s really good, but I want to talk about the present. How many people have someone who would represent diversity that reports to you?" chair of the financial services subcommittee on diversity and inclusion, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, asked the CEOs during Wednesday's hearing, with a majority of them raising their hands.
"If we're going to talk about justice, if we're going to talk about democracy and fairness, then we can't get to all the other things, whether it’s intelligence, whether it’s cybersecurity," Beatty argued, "if you don’t reflect the people that put all those dollars into your bank, buying homes, everything that they are doing comes back to what I believe in and what I stand for."
The day prior to Wednesday's Financial Services Committee hearing, Beatty's subcommittee on diversity and inclusion also grilled insurance company executives on similar diversity commitments.