July 6, 2020 / 8:58 PM / a month ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 2-RBC commits C$150 mln to diversity push, aims for more minority executives

(Corrects third paragraph of July 6 story to say Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has one black board director instead of "none of the top six banks had either a Black CEO or a board member")

By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO, July 6 (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Canada is committing C$150 million ($111 million) to racial diversity initiatives and aims to increase the proportion of non-white executive hires to 30% from 20%, Canada's biggest lender said on Monday.

RBC joins Bank of America, which announced $1 billion to address racial inequality, and others, including Alphabet Inc's Google and Amazon.com Inc, in committing funds for racial justice causes following the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May.

Across Canada's top six banks, people of color account for only about 10% of senior executives, according to a Reuters analysis. None of the top six banks has a Black CEO and only Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has a Black board director.

Minorities made up 37% of RBC's Canadian workforce and 35% of U.S. employees in 2019, according to a report here

RBC said in a statement it has to better understand, identify and address issues that impede the success of Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups at the bank.

The Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism in June urged here business leaders to commit to increasing Black representation among their workforces, executives and board roles by 2025.

"Many Canadian companies have made statements condemning anti-Black systemic racism -- it's now time to back that up with action by signing the pledge," founder Wes Hall, who also runs shareholder services firm Kingsdale Advisors, said in a statement.

RBC did not say when it seeks to reach its 30% firm-wide target for non-white executive hires.

The bank pledged C$100 million in small business loans over five years to Black entrepreneurs and a C$50 million investment until 2025 to create opportunities for 25,000 Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Last month, Manulife Financial Corp and Bank of Nova Scotia pledged C$3.5 million and C$500,000 respectively for diversity initiatives.

$1 = 1.3547 Canadian dollars Reporting By Nichola Saminather; Editing by Dan Grebler and Aurora Ellis

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