Fifth Third Bank Announces $2.8 Billion Investment to Accelerate Racial Equity, Equality and Inclusion

by cdawkins

l to r:  Kala Gibson, Fifth Third Bank’s Chief Enterprise Responsibility Officer and Head of Business Banking and Stephanie Smith, Fifth Third’s Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer

Bank introduces innovative neighborhood fund as part of equality plans

Fifth Third Bank, National Association has announced a $2.8 billion commitment that will provide $2.2 billion in lending, $500 million in investments, $60 million in financial accessibility and $40 million in philanthropy as part of its Executive Diversity Leadership Council’s Accelerating Racial Equality, Equity and Inclusion initiative. The initiative is part of the Bank’s ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity, which is focused on creating equitable outcomes for all.

The three-year pledge focuses on three constituents: employees, customers and communities. Each vertical has a specific emphasis on accelerating the Bank’s progress toward an equitable environment for Black Americans.

“As we continue to make meaningful strides in advancing inclusion and diversity in our industry and in our communities, Fifth Third is committed to maintaining and extending its leadership and making a difference for our Black customers, communities and employees,” said Greg Carmichael, Chairman and CEO. “The dedicated investment, philanthropy and lending efforts will help accelerate our progress toward promoting equality, equity and inclusion, both within the Bank and in our communities, launching with a $2.8 billion commitment.”

The $2.8 billion commitment is focused on four strategic pillars from passive income that directly impact customers and communities with targeted outcomes enabling the Bank to track progress and measure success in the following areas:

  • Strategic Investments: Fifth Third will engage in comprehensive neighborhood revitalization to help improve outcomes and quality of life indicators for communities of color that have experienced decades of disinvestment. Through the introduction of an innovative $100 million Neighborhood Fund, the Bank will focus on improving the social and environmental determinants in a community bringing together resources and expertise from across the Bank’s lines of business. The Fund will conduct a competitive application process across the Bank’s 11-state footprint and award at least five communities with long-term investments to accelerate impact and outcomes.

“Fifth Third is acting boldly and decisively to create more equitable outcomes in Black communities during this critical time,” said Priscilla Almodovar, chief executive officer of Enterprise Community Partners, a national nonprofit that addresses America’s affordable housing crisis from every angle. “Their investment gives organizations like ours the opportunity to engage communities at the forefront of building meaningful change.”

  • Access to Capital: Fifth Third will continue expanding access to home loans and business capital. Through this pillar, the Bank intends to increase its mortgage lending by 31% with a focus on achieving parity in its top eight markets where Black Americans reside.

In 2018, the Bank invested in a fund with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition for home ownership and rehabilitation in urban communities. “Fifth Third’s leadership in the area of investing in underserved communities to prevent the widening gap of economic inequality and to help people own their own homes is a clear demonstration of the Bank’s dedication to creating wealth and helping establish stability for families,” said Jesse Van Tol, chief executive officer, National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and member of Fifth Third’s Community Advisory Forum.

Owning a small business can help build wealth and create a legacy for business owners to transfer to their families. Yet, Black business owners can face challenges finding the capital to start and maintain their business, which can be the difference between success or failure. Fifth Third will play a role in creating opportunities for these business owners to tap into the financial support they need. Small business lending by Fifth Third is targeted to increase by 25% in majority minority communities. The Bank will continue to invest and expand partnerships with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to increase the sources for capital. In 2017, the Bank launched the Entrepreneur of Color Funds in Detroit and Chicago, and in 2018 it launched a similar fund in Cincinnati. These programs will also now expand to Cleveland, Atlanta and Louisville.

  • Financial Inclusion and Education: The Bank expects 25% of its new branches to be built in majority-minority tracts and low-and-moderate income communities, and increasing accessibility through innovation. Through these efforts Fifth Third will provide wider access to business and consumer loans, expand accessible tools for financial education and develop innovative banking solutions for the unbanked and underbanked. Additionally, the Bank will continue to work with and invest in Historically Black Colleges and Universities to support scholarships and career readiness through internships and early career development opportunities.

Fifth Third will create opportunities for and increase spending with Black-owned suppliers as part of its supplier diversity program. In 2021, it will launch a program with the National Minority Supplier Development Council to improve supplier readiness for corporate business opportunities.

  • Social Justice and Advocacy: The Bank is investing and partnering with organizations that actively engage and support laws and policies that address systemic racism, create improvements in worker re-entry and improve economic mobility and skill-based training, which will provide for greater access to jobs and skills for low-wage workers through workforce development programs. The Bank has already committed $1 million to the National Urban League for a workforce development program that focuses on growing individual’s skills and developing the tools that are needed for business success.

“There is a critical need for organizations to engage in the work of helping to eliminate the social and economic barriers that negatively impact Black Americans, including job creation and job preparation,” said Marc H. Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League. “We are pleased to collaborate with companies such as Fifth Third as they show their dedication to the journey of financial equity.”

In addition to the community financial investments for Fifth Third’s customers and communities, the Executive Diversity Leadership Council’s efforts include an employee-focused workstream to ensure the Bank maintains and grows its culture of equality, equity and inclusion among its workforce.

“It is important that we collaborate with our external and internal stakeholders so that we can serve them in the most effective, impactful and sustainable ways,” said Kala Gibson, chief enterprise responsibility officer and head of Business Banking. “We will continue to review policies and practices to evaluate where comprehensive improvements can be made so that the Bank’s employees, customers and communities are fully supported.”

Stephanie Smith, Fifth Third’s senior vice president and chief inclusion and diversity officer, explained that while the Bank has long valued inclusion and diversity, its leaders are working to enhance equality among its employees. “We have a responsibility to establish a more equitable workplace, particularly for our Black employees, customers, community members and suppliers,” she said. “While these challenging issues won’t be solved overnight, we are continuing the efforts toward actionable change and we are committed to be a force of advancement.”

The Bank recently unveiled six bold goals that will be achieved by 2025 to support inclusion and diversity within its entire workforce and for its diverse suppliers:

  • Complete unconscious bias awareness training for 100% of employees. (This was achieved in 2020.)
  • Ensure the diversity of the Bank’s workforce reflects the markets it serves.
  • Grow leadership positions at each management level for women and persons of color.
  • Create a work environment where there is no disparity in race or gender.
  • Advance the Bank as a leader in inclusion and diversity.
  • Achieve and sustain a 10% supplier diversity spend to increase supply chain inclusion.

As the Bank continues to make meaningful strides in advancing inclusion and diversity in the banking and financial services industry and in its communities, it is equally committed to maintaining and extending that position to make a difference for its employees and customers. To learn more about the Bank’s commitment to racial equity and equality visit

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