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JPMorgan Chase: Leading with Inclusion

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By Melissa Lowery

JPMorgan Chase has a history of recognizing the value of inclusion and putting it into practice, from hiring to business products to the supply chain and beyond.

The firm recently created a new role, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion, and appointed Brian Lamb to fill the position. Lamb’s approach is holistic, leaning into intersectionality and building a culture where all employees and customers are treated equally and feel welcome.

In 2017 JPMorgan Chase created the LGBT+ Executive Council, evidence of the maturation of the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. The council brings together a group of ‘out’ senior leaders who serve as advocates for the LGBT+ community, building on the firm’s track record and commitment to the community, and charting the course of its LGBT+ inclusion strategy.

Council co-chairs Joanna Bratt, Managing Director & Associate General Counsel, Commercial Bank and Larry Holodak, Managing Director, Corporate Compliance, sat down with BEQ Pride to talk about how the council is using considered, intentional actions to advance inclusion.

“We felt that a firm of our size would do well to have a more coordinated approach in addressing LGBT+ matters for our employees, the business community and the public at large,” Holodak said. “We saw it as a choice between doing a lot of little things separately or consolidating our effort to accomplish big things.”

“A sense of belonging”

JPMorgan Chase believes success is linked to the people and culture that make up the organization, and an inclusive culture allows people to thrive.

“The firm has always taken steps to make sure people have a sense of belonging,” Holodak said. “One of our goals is to stitch the company together in a way that is cohesive, where people can be their authentic selves.”

JPMorgan Chase’s Pride business resource group (BRG) includes 27,000 members throughout the organization. The BRG provides programming and community engagement opportunities at a grassroots level, a valuable component of the firm’s workplace culture. But some issues require a top-down approach.

“The BRG aids in our sense of belonging, but some things need to be addressed at the senior level,” Holodak said. “Employee benefits that impact the LGBT+ community in particular, for example, can’t be implemented at the grassroots level.”

Visibility within and across the firm is another important part of the council’s efforts in the culture column. While the firm’s ‘out’ leaders have always been encouraged to get involved both internally and externally, the council realized that being more intentional about how, when and where leaders get involved would be empowering.

“It’s important to get leaders into branches, regions and operations centers, so people truly see our senior leaders,” Bratt said. “We want people to see that it’s possible to bring your whole self to work at JPMorgan Chase and thrive.”

Internally that means greater connectivity with the Pride BRG through mentoring and participating in panel events. Increasing the visibility of ‘out’ leaders — especially at the managing director and executive director levels — throughout the organization is key to a company culture that encourages authenticity and shows that members of our LGBT+ community can grow and advance their careers at the firm.

This year brought a new perspective on intersectionality at the company as well. In June, the council planned a virtual fireside chat to celebrate Pride month. Instead, in the days following the murder of George Floyd and the national outcry against police brutality, the council invited the co-chairs of the firm’s Black Executive Forum to join a panel discussion and talk about what it means to bring your authentic self to work.

“When we heard Black people talking about not bringing their Blackness to work, about what that means, how it makes them feel — that deeply resonated with the LGBT+ community and across the company,” Holodak said. “We have to work together to ensure everyone can bring 100 percent of themselves to the workplace.”

The “+” in the council’s name is an acknowledgment of the broad spectrum of gender and sexual identity represented by the firm’s employees and customers. This year provided an opportunity for the council to look within and examine their priorities, ensuring that they are fully representative of the entire LGBT+ community.

“Currently we do not have senior leaders who are out transgender individuals, for example,” Bratt said. “We are committed to increasing the visibility of transgender, bisexual and nonbinary employees, so they are part of the dialogue and so we are truly inclusive.”

Externally, council members are serving on boards of various nonprofit organizations and business councils that matter to the LGBT+ community.

“We have a lot of expertise to offer,” Bratt said. “We want to do more than just write checks – although financial support is important. We want to export the firm’s talent to various boards and become part of the connective tissue the organizations need to succeed.”

Investing in the LGBT+ community

JPMorgan Chase has a long-standing supplier diversity program focused on creating opportunities for ethnic minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community to do business with the firm as suppliers.

In 2019, JPMorgan Chase celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Global Supplier Diversity program and reached $2.5B in spend with diverse suppliers, over $40M of which was spent with LGBT-owned companies.

The firm is also a founding member of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an organization that enables it to identify LGBT owned businesses with which they can potentially do business. Additionally, the Chamber creates opportunities for the firm to foster the growth and success of LGBT entrepreneurs.

JPMorgan Chase is, of course, a business and the bottom-line drives decisions. A corporate culture of inclusion and an emphasis on workplace diversity and authenticity is good for business, as is leveraging best practices and ideas to attract a diverse customer base. That strategy includes a robust supplier diversity program, but being competitive requires looking at the bigger picture.

“The LGBT business community is growing by leaps and bounds,” Holodak said. “People are coming out earlier and the spectrum is broader than ever before. We want to be the bank of choice and make sure the LGBT+ community knows what we have to offer.”

In addition to increasing spend with LGBT+-owned and operated businesses, JPMorgan Chase wants to provide entrepreneurs with a full suite of financial services.

“We have a dedicated effort to support LGBT companies through purchasing, but we realized that’s part of a bigger ecosystem,” Holodak said. “We need to better leverage our capital to help LGBT+ owned businesses grow.”

In the wider community, the council is formalizing the process of choosing when to publicly speak about issues of equality and diversity. The goal is to leverage the company’s brand more effectively to drive progress in countries where JPMorgan Chase has a presence. Last year, for example, the bank signed a statement in support of activists in Warsaw, Poland, protesting the anti-LGBT ideology taking hold in that country.

“We can’t use our name everywhere, but we recognize that we can make a difference when we participate, when we are visible externally,” Bratt said. “We would like to be more proactive in using the power of our brand to make a difference”.

“I feel invigorated”

Looking back on an unprecedented year, both Holodak and Bratt are full of enthusiasm and excitement about what the council has already accomplished, and what comes next. With support from stakeholders, including the Chairman and CEO, ideas are flowing about how to leverage JPMorgan Chase’s platform in service of a better, more equitable world.

“Being able to go and see other people doing good because of things we set them up to do is so enriching and satisfying,” Holodak said. “How lucky are we to get to do what we do in addition to our day jobs?”

“I feel invigorated,” Bratt said. “As I bring my authentic self to work, I have so much to give. Saying I feel supported is an understatement. We’re being given the tools to rise and be that bank of choice for the LGBT+ community and to drive a culture of inclusivity at JPMorgan Chase.”


Joanna Bratt

Joanna Bratt is a Managing Director & Associate General Counsel in the Commercial Banking Legal Department. Joanna’s teams cover Wholesale Payments Product Delivery, Global Services, Marketing & Communication, Data, and Privacy. Joanna’s previous roles in Commercial Banking Legal included supporting the Corporate Client Banking and Middle Market Banking businesses as well as managing the Credit Markets legal team. Joanna is based in New York City.

Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, Joanna was an attorney in the finance department at Bingham McCutchen LLP (now Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP). She holds a J.D. from Boston College and a B.A. in International Relations from Tufts University.
Joanna is the Co-Chair of the J.P. Morgan LGBT+ Executive Council and Global Co-Chair of the Legal Diversity Council. Joanna previously served on the Ali Forney Center board of directors and the Leadership Advisory Committee of National Women’s Law Center. Joanna lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her wife and daughter.

Larry Holodak

Lawrence (Larry) Holodak is a Managing Director in the Corporate Compliance Department of J.P. Morgan Chase and is responsible for firm-wide Conduct Risk Management. Larry is based in New York City and has previously held roles in the Investment Bank, Finance, and Risk departments. He is the Co-Chair of the firm’s LGBT+ Executive Council, and is a senior advisor for The Fellowship Initiative, a JP Morgan Chase Foundation program which seeks to improve educational outcomes for young men of color.

Larry serves on the boards of Mark DeGarmo Dance and Prep for Prep, and is a member of the Out@StPaul LGBT Ministry at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle in New York City.  He was a co-producer of the short documentary film, “LGBT Catholics: Owning Our Faith”.

Larry is a graduate of Boston College, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Management, and currently serves on the university’s LGBTQ+ Alumni Council.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.