As the George Floyd protests have sparked demands for change to overcome racial injustice, America is more divided than ever. Bias AF is about amplifying diverse voices and activating the Consciously Unbiased community for change. Consciously Unbiased spoke to Ricardo Peters, former financial advisor at JPMorgan Chase. The New York Times published a story called “This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry,” which highlighted Ricardo’s report of discrimination at that institution. You can read on for some of Ricardo’s solutions for overcoming systemic racism, and what really needs to happen to activate lasting change. Don’t miss listening to the conversation here.
*Interview is edited and condensed and shares the view of the guest. Interview was done in February 2020.
Episode music is “Live More,” by K.Credle
Read below for some key takeaways:
CU: Did anything change after the New York Times story?
RICARDO: “[JPMorgan Chase] played the game and did a campaign for diversity, like every big corporation does, as damage control for discrimination. But after that article came out, I was contacted by so many people globally reaching out to me about their stories, and thanking me for being their voices. I felt blessed.
CU: So what will it take to create lasting change in the banking industry and beyond?
RICARDO: “The only way to ignite change is [to have] a consequence. The only way to do that is through legislation, through Congress. If you look at any major [banking] institution, the amount of fines and settlements they pay is nothing compared to what they acquire in revenue. So the way you hurt something like that is to take away their ability to lend, to borrow, to invest, to buy, to acquire other banks. Then, and only then, when you hurt their pockets, is when [banks] start to take the money they’re acquiring and pay for diversity and inclusion education in the workplace, and properly address the issue instead of just paying a fine.
…How are big corporations able to break the law and pay a fine, but a regular Joe commits a crime and goes to jail and can’t buy his way out? There needs to be more accountability. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, asked me to come speak at a public hearing in regards to what I’ve experienced and ways to diffuse that.”
CU: Why do you think we are so scared to talk about race in the workplace?
RICARDO: “I think we’re so scared to talk about race because I think we lack compassion for each other and understanding. For some reason, we’re at this level of consciousness where if we can’t see it or feel it, it doesn’t exist. We need to come to an acceptance that there needs to be some commonality for just being a human being. Have that sensitivity and empathy that even though I can’t experience it on your level or I can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s not real or it doesn’t exist.
The conversation about race in America is heated, emotionally charged. It’s an argument; it’s not a conversation. When you talk about racism, instead of one party listening and the other one talking, it’s a debate. It can’t be a debate if both parties aren’t experiencing the same thing.It has to be a conversation where one listens. They say we have two ears and one mouth to listen more and talk less. That’s where the problem lies.”
CU: What are some small moves—what we call micro-progressions at Consciously Unbiased—that each of us can do to help overcome racial bias?
RICARDO: “As an individual, strive to be better. What I mean by that is to treat other people with respect and be an advocate. The only reason that I decided to come forward and go public was to be an advocate for others’ voices. My mother worked for the Congress of Racial Equality, so I grew up with a mom who is a civil rights activist and I’ve always had that mentality. If something is not right, speak up for someone. Report it and realize if it hurts one person, it hurts us all.”
“This Is What Racism Sounds Like in the Banking Industry,” The New York Times
“A Financial Commentator On Why The Wealth Gap Is Widening,” Break the Bias Podcast
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