(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) asked seven of the nation’s leading bankers on Wednesday to confirm their race.
“As I look at the panel, and I'm grateful for your attendance, the--the eye would perceive that the seven of you have something in common. You appear to be white men. I may be mistaken,” Green said at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.
“If one among you happens to be something other than a white male, would you kindly extend a hand into the air? Kindly let the record reflect that there are no hands in the air and that the panel is made up of white men,” Green continued.
“This is not a pejorative,” Green said. “You've all sermonized to a certain extent about diversity. If you believe that your likely successor will be a woman or a person of color, would you kindly extend a hand into the air?” [No hands raised.]
Then Green told the bank executives, “For fear that you may not hear me, just raise your hand now so that I'll know you're there. Raise your hand, please. All of you. Sir, apparently you don't hear me over on the end. Would you kindly extend a hand into the air if you can hear me?”
Green prodded all of them to raise their hands, which the bankers did -- reluctantly.
I know it's difficult to go on the record sometimes, but the record has to be made. All white men, and none of you, not one, appears to believe that your successor will be a female or a person of color.
Is it your bank likely to have a female or person of color within the next decade? Kindly extend a hand into the air -- two, three, four, five. All right, five. Without giving the commentary that I would dearly like to give, I'll move on.
You know, I'm sitting next to a reverend, and I've heard him say that he'd rather see a sermon then hear a sermon. Let us have an opportunity to see a sermon when you return.
Next question has to do with something near and dear to my heart. My ancestors were slaves. In 2005, is it true that J.P. Morgan released information directly indicating that it directly benefited from slavery? Would the representative from J.P. Morgan respond?
James Dimon, the chairman and CEO of JP Morgan, Chase & Co., said, “I do believe that in 2005 we made a report about potential transactions that involve slavery between J.P. Morgan or its heritage companies back in the 1800s.”
Green asked Dimon if his bank “accepted loans against slaves as collateral.”
“I believe that to be true, yes,” Dimon responded.
Green asked if any of the other banks have produced a study on whether they benefited from slavery. “If so, raise your hand, please. Let the record reflect that none have raised a hand, not one has raised a hand.”
Green then asked, “Do you believe that your bank benefited from slavery in some way in terms of its business practices? If so, raise your hand. (No hands raised.)
“If you do not believe that it benefited, raise your hand. Let the record reflect that all but Mr. Dimon raised a hand. Thank you.
When his time was up, Green told the seven bankers: “I do want you to know that we believe you can do better.”
Later, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) said she found the lack of diversity in banking boardrooms and corporate suites “unacceptable.”
She told the bankers to either hire someone, or give a current employee the title of “Director of the Office of Minority Inclusion in Banks.”
“Will you authorize this person to then have a meeting with me so I can do a follow-up, that we can be more than aspiration?” Beatty asked the bankers, most of whom agreed.