In early 2015, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon sat down with Sarah Rosen Wartell, President of the Urban Institute, to discuss corporate responsibility and JPMorgan Chase’s focus on expanding economic opportunity.

Jamie Dimon is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase. In early 2015, Jamie sat down with Sarah Rosen Wartell of the Urban Institute to discuss the firm’s approach to corporate responsibility and its focus on expanding economic opportunity.

JPMorgan Chase is partnering with the Urban Institute as part of a multi‐year program that aims to inform and assess the impact of JPMorgan Chase's key philanthropic initiatives.

Sarah Rosen Wartell is President of the Urban Institute. A public policy executive and housing markets expert, Ms. Wartell served in the White House from 1998‐2001, both as deputy assistant to the president for Economic Policy and deputy director of the National Economic Council. She also worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and cofounded the Center for American Progress.


Sarah Rosen Wartell: A 2014 Gallup poll showed that Americans' views of your industry are improving, but the banking industry still has significant work to do to return to pre‐financial crisis trust levels. What is different about JPMorgan Chase today, compared with a few years ago?

Jamie Dimon: Our firm was a port of safety during the financial crisis – and we’ll be one in the next storm – but that doesn’t mean there weren’t things we needed to fix. We are steadfast in our commitment to learn from our mistakes. I know the public is angry, and I think they have a right to be. Therefore, we should acknowledge that and continue to work to fix the problems in the financial system. And at JPMorgan Chase, we are trying to do our part to do just that.

Our firm has undertaken a massive effort to strengthen our control environment and continue to strengthen our corporate culture as well. Last year, we published a report called How We Do Business that details those efforts, and I’d encourage everyone to read it. Perhaps most important, the report talks about our people and our culture and what we’re doing to hold ourselves and each other accountable for adhering to our values and standards every day, in everything we do.

This commitment to accountability and transparency isn’t limited to our business operations; we’re applying it to our corporate responsibility efforts as well.

Sarah Rosen Wartell: JPMorgan Chase has taken an unusual stand in its corporate responsibility – bringing in a partner to learn what’s working and what’s not. Why invite that scrutiny and be open to that level of transparency?

Jamie Dimon: We have a number of significant corporate responsibility initiatives – I’d point to our work in Detroit and on workforce readiness as two key examples – but they all have the same fundamental objective: to use our expertise, resources and data to support economic growth and expand access to opportunity in our communities. I believe there are no more urgent, important or morally compelling challenges facing the world today. So our firm is working hard to help find solutions that create more jobs, grow small businesses, give people the skills to compete in the workforce and, ultimately, create more widely shared prosperity.

Over the next five years, we will deploy $1 billion toward these efforts, and we want to be certain these investments achieve meaningful impact. We want to be judged not on the commitments we make or the amount of money we give, but on our effectiveness in helping solve real challenges and improving people’s lives. So we are taking a disciplined, data‐driven approach to make sure we fully understand the nature of the challenges, support the most effective solutions and work with best‐in‐class partners to get things done. We also expect to learn along the way.

That’s why we are looking forward to our collaboration with the Urban Institute. The deep expertise and insight your organization will bring to analyzing the impact of our efforts will strengthen our programs and, we think, provide valuable learning for others.

Sarah Rosen Wartell: What does JPMorgan Chase see as the most promising strategies for creating more broadly shared economic opportunity?

Jamie Dimon: With millions of people around the world migrating to urban areas, strengthening local economies is essential to opening up access to opportunity, and that’s why we’re focused on working with local leaders to develop strategies that boost the economic vitality of cities.

One specific area where our firm is placing a big bet is on helping cities close their skills gaps. We think this can make a real difference in expanding access to opportunity, shrinking the income gap a bit and giving the whole economy a boost.

City leaders and employers tell us they are looking for better data to help them align workforce training programs with the skills and credentials employers need. So one of the things we’re doing is developing real‐time, locally focused labor market data in cities across the United States and in Europe to help everyone better target efforts on sectors and occupations where jobs – particularly those that pay good wages and offer opportunities for advancement – are going unfilled.

We’re also supporting youth employment programs. One of the biggest sins in our country is that half of inner city school kids do not graduate from high school. That’s a massive waste of potential – and virtually guarantees that those kids won’t be able to break the cycle of poverty. Research shows that teenagers who have summer jobs are more likely to stay in school and to have higher earnings into adulthood. But there’s a serious shortage of positions – particularly for kids in economically distressed communities, where the need is greatest – so we’re helping those programs expand.

Sarah Rosen Wartell: What is the private sector’s role in addressing big societal challenges like economic opportunity and inequality?

Jamie Dimon: There is a moral obligation, first and foremost, but the private sector also has a clear vested interest in doing so. The long‐term success of our firm – of any company – is inextricably linked to the health and vitality of the communities and customers we serve. Creating more jobs, strengthening the educational system, fixing immigration, growing middle class incomes – these are not only in society’s interest, they’re also in our firm’s interest.

In the past, there’s been a view by many that the private sector’s primary contribution was financial. That’s clearly still part of the equation, but there’s a recognition today that finding transformative, lasting solutions also requires the expertise, tools and innovation capacity of the private sector. And it requires new kinds of partnerships among the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

Clearly, our firm is just one part of the solution, but we’re putting our particular resources and capabilities to work in a number of areas. We’re developing new investment models that create social and environmental value alongside financial return such as the Global Health Investment Fund and NatureVest. We’re helping identify and scale innovative solutions to consumer financial challenges through the Financial Solutions Lab. And in 2015, we are launching the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which will leverage the unique assets of our firm, including our global reach, unique real‐time data and intellectual capital, to deliver insight on economic trends around the world.

Those are just a few examples – and we look forward to working with you and other partners to strengthen our communities and create more broadly shared prosperity.