JPMorgan Chase’s focus on diversity attracted this banker to move to Columbus
Courtesy of Columbus Business First
By Haleigh Colombo
January 19, 2022
Like many executives, the Covid-19 pandemic prompted banker Brandon Nelson to think about the next stage of his career.
He knew he wanted a role with a greater focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
Nelson’s job search ultimately led him to Columbus, and specifically to JPMorgan Chase.
Nelson, a longtime Louisiana resident, had spent 20 years as a senior vice president in the commercial banking department for a regional bank in New Orleans, Hancock Whitney.
But when he saw an opportunity to lead JPMorgan Chase’s middle market banking group for Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, he decided to take the leap in order to work for the company because of its commitment to racial equity initiatives.
“A lot of companies kind of say the right thing and state they are going to do the right thing, but not a lot of organizations actually follow through with that,” Nelson told Columbus Business First. “It’s frankly one of the things that attracted me to JPMorgan Chase.”
Nelson, who is Black, noticed as he scrolled LinkedIn that “certainly relative to other banks, JPMorgan Chase puts a lot of people who look like me in leadership positions.”
“It felt like a meritocracy, which I feel like is what most minorities want,” Nelson said. “You’re not looking for favoritism; you’re just looking for opportunity.”
Several large banks made efforts in support of racial diversity in 2020, amid a wave of racial justice protests across the United States in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.
JPMorgan Chase, for its part, announced a $30 billion commitment to racial equity initiatives in the fall of 2020, to “help close the racial wealth gap among Black, Hispanic and Latino communities.”
The plan includes lending, equity and direct funding to increase home ownership, expand affordable housing, help minority-owned businesses, up supplier diversity and more. As of October 2021, the company had deployed or committed $13 billion of that goal.
“What attracted me is even before 2020, I think we were leading the financial industry in addressing this, and now I believe that we’ve put our foot to the pedal and are pushing hard to address this, not for 10 years from now, but now,” Nelson said.
Since starting at JPMorgan Chase, Nelson said he has gotten in touch with Ohio’s historically black colleges, Central State University and Wilberforce University, in hopes of facilitating more networking connections between HBCU grads and financial institutions.
Nelson is working to set up a program with local HBCUs that would feature Ohio banking executives and could connect students and graduates to internships and jobs.
Since coming to Columbus, Nelson has also gotten involved with the Columbus Urban League. He was recently appointed to the organization’s board of directors.
Nelson said this is another opportunity for JPMorgan Chase to take on a leadership role in the community around addressing inequities in banking.
“I share their passion of addressing the inequities that have adversely affected minorities for a long time,” Nelson said. “They’re an advocate for an inclusive economy and society and their programs and services very much match that. It’s really about uplifting people and putting them on a path to economic mobility and family stability. I look forward to playing my role in helping them.”
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