U.S. Bank launches new diversity initiatives

Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank is adding another series of actions aimed to promote diversity and combat racial wealth inequality.

The Access Commitment program will focus on three primary areas: supporting businesses owned by people of color, helping individuals and communities of color advance economically and enhancing career opportunities for employees and prospective employees. 

The flagship of the move is a new $25 million microbusiness fund focused on businesses owned by women of color. It will provide capital, technical assistance and networking. U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation will provide $20 million in debt capital to Black-led and women-focused community development financial institutions. U.S. Bank Foundation will provide $5 million in grants to support expansion, capacity building, technical assistance and mentorship/networking.

U.S. Bank is also introducing a DREAM (Delivering Resources that Enable Access to Mortgage) Initiative this summer, focused on advancing Black homeownership and increasing Black representation in the mortgage industry. The initiative includes enhanced adult financial education, youth outreach, and a mortgage loan officer development program focused on attracting underrepresented communities. 

The bank’s global trade and supply chain finance teams will expand existing efforts to provide trade financing to more diverse businesses, with a focus on supply chain finance, the bank said. USBCDC said it would also deepen relationships with partners that are Black-owned, Black-led or are prioritizing racial equity in their work.

Based on a survey it conducted, U.S. Bank said it would also be rolling out efforts to build “sustained wealth” among it’s in communities of color. It also vowed to increase career development efforts for Black employees as well as those from other marginalized backgrounds. It also said it would create a more robust program to encourage diverse hires, including at least one woman or person of color in the interview process for all employment opportunities (previously, this stipulation had applied to managerial roles and above).

“We believe access to capital for minority small business, housing and homeownership and workforce advancement creates opportunities for systemic change,” said Andy Cecere, chair, president and CEO of the $545 billion U.S. Bank.

These efforts build on the $116 million commitment made by U.S. Bank in 2020, including increased supplier spend, innovative products, services and customer experiences, and long-term place-based partnerships with the goal of addressing the persistent racial wealth gap, starting with the Black community.