CEO of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon believes the U.S. economy systemically rolls over ethnic minority groups and economically disadvantaged people, making it difficult or impossible for them to gain economic footholds and compete fairly.
Speaking with CNN Money, Dimon refused to say whether this makes the U.S. institutionally racist, but he revealed that JPMorgan is developing a series of initiatives to tackle the problems raised by systemic inequality.
Dimon says a problem facing such groups is that the economy is structured to be “fundamentally anti-poor,” making it hard for people to develop the skills they need to work. To this end, JPMorgan is set to unveil a $350 million program to provide training and prepare workers for the kinds of jobs that will be available in the future.
Some of America’s biggest companies including IBM, Google and Apple are adopting a college-neutral position on their entry requirements. The reasoning is that having a four-year college degree does not, in itself, guarantee a candidate’s qualifications or suitability for a job. More relevant should be the candidate’s expertise, experience and organizational culture fit.
These companies believe many candidates who would have fit well into open roles were turned down because of past degree requirements. They’re now reexamining their decisions to attract a better variety of candidates.
Dimon cosigns this line of thought. In the interview, he mentions the emphasis on college degrees is counterproductive, and that some positions should not require them. He says forcing people into a college education doesn’t help them in the long run, as they often end up with unsuitable skills and fill roles they’re not qualified for.
He also states that JPMorgan has removed all college degree requirements from roughly 75 percent of its open U.S. positions advertised in 2018. The company is instead relying on an internal training system to give its employees the skills and information they need to satisfy job requirements.
He also believes the economy will benefit if more ways are found to get ex-convicts into work. In his opinion, this is important not just for charitable reasons, but because enabling groups of people to become economically active can help build the country’s infrastructure.
Dimon says that once convicts have paid their debt to society by serving prison time, there is no need to elongate their suffering by making it difficult for them to earn honest livings. He believes the current system makes it more likely for them to commit crimes and return to prison, as regulations make it extremely difficult to hire ex-convicts, particularly within financial services:
A lot of those people probably never should’ve been felons, or they’ve paid their price. They’ve got families. They’ve got kids. They can’t get credit. They can’t get a home. They struggle to get a job, and they deserve a second chance. These are not necessarily violent, lifelong criminals. These are people who made mistakes when they were young. I tell my friends, you made a lot of mistakes when you were young, too. You just didn’t get caught.