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Citigroup pledges over US$1b to combat racial inequality

[NEW YORK] Citigroup said on Wednesday it would set aside more than US$1 billion to support initiatives that help close the racial wealth gap and increase economic mobility for people of colour.

The Wall Street bank said the three-year initiative will include programmes that would provide greater access to banking and credit in communities of color, increase investment in Black-owned businesses and expand homeownership among Black Americans.

"We are in the midst of a national reckoning on race and words are not enough," said chief financial officer Mark Mason.

"We need awareness, education, and action that drive results." Mr Mason is one of the industry's most senior Black executives.

Citi's statement comes amid a broader re-think of racism in the United States in recent months, after police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd, who died on May 25 in Minneapolis.

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Many US companies have issued statements of solidarity with the Black community, promised to increase diversity among employees and collectively pledged nearly US$2 billion to advance racial justice and equity.

In June, Bank Of America decided to pledge US$1 billion to address economic and racial inequality.

Reuters reported on Tuesday Wells Fargo & Co chief executive Charles Scharf exasperated some Black employees in a Zoom meeting this summer when he reiterated the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent.

REUTERS

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