North America’s best bank for corporate responsibility 2022: Bank of America
Sustainable finance is now at the top of many global banks’ agendas, but it has been there at Bank of America for a very long time already. The bank is committed to deploying $1 trillion towards zero-carbon investments by 2030, but Steve Boland, chief administrative officer, believes this initiative shouldn’t overshadow the bank’s long held belief in pursuing a sustainable growth strategy in relation to its broader corporate responsibilities. It is the continued success of this strategy that makes BofA North America’s best bank for corporate responsibility.
The first group the bank targets is its employees.
“We have always had an expansive benefits programme, and so the significant adaptation that we made to these health benefits due to the challenges of the pandemic were actually just a continuation of our belief in promoting wellness and providing access to health services for our employees and their families,” says Boland.
BofA ensured its employees have access to tele-health resources with 24/7 virtual access to doctors, as well as a home delivery of prescription maintenance medications with a temporarily waived refill waiting period. This was in addition to no-cost coronavirus testing and related office visit charges.
The bank has tackled the growing mental health challenge of the pandemic head on by providing nearly 60,000 free virtual consultations with physicians and behavioural health specialists for its staff and it has placed more than 23,000 confidential counselling calls.
As the US’s largest consumer bank, BofA is also committed to building sustainable growth in the communities in which it operates. The bank is committed to building verified progress on diversity among its supply chains, and suppliers must provide their employees with a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
As well as financing many diverse businesses throughout the country, particularly those in the small and medium-sized enterprise segment, BofA continues to deliver on its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. This involves supporting entrepreneurship and the growth of small businesses; and helping to diminish or eliminate the barriers that make it difficult for people of colour to access startup and growth capital.
“Addressing this gap requires significant, systematic change,” says Boland. “The bank has already dedicated $350 million to minority and women-led companies through capital investment by mission-focused venture funds, with more than $300 million of that funding committed to more than 100 minority-focused and minority-led equity funds in just over a year.”
The bank has already dedicated $350 million to minority and women-led companies through capital investment by mission-focused venture funds
Financing home ownership builds intra-generational wealth.
“In 2021, we built on our longstanding efforts to help create opportunities for people and communities of colour,” says Boland. “We tripled our programme BofA Community Homeownership Commitment to $15 billion through 2025 with a goal of helping 60,000 low- and moderate-income individuals and families to purchase a home. We also committed $60 million to increase access to capital and career opportunities for Black, indigenous and people of colour affordable housing developers.”
Boland also points to the bank’s two issues of $2 billion equality progress sustainability bonds, proceeds from which are designed to advance racial and gender equality, economic opportunity and environmental sustainability globally across BofA. The bank has issued $11.9 billion across nine green, social and sustainability programmes since 2013.