Podcast

Alice Rodriguez: Putting Equity into Action

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

After a remarkable 30-plus year career at the largest U.S. bank, JPMorgan Chase, Alice Rodriguez was called upon to lead its recently announced $30 billion initiative providing economic opportunities for underserved communities, especially Black and Latinx communities, over the next five years as Head of Community Practices, Engagement and Inclusion. Daughter of an immigrant and current chairwoman for the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Alice shares insights about her perspective and goals for supporting underserved communities across the country.

Alice Rodriguez

Alice Rodriguez

Alice Rodriguez has more than 30 years of extensive banking experience with JPMorgan Chase and its predecessors, starting in her native Texas. Alice holds a BBA in Management from the University of Texas at Brownsville. A few of her many community and business leadership recognitions include Hispanic Lifestyle Magazine’s Latina of Influence, Hispanic Business Magazine’s Corporate Elite, and Northwood University’s Distinguished Women’s Series Award. Northwood University. Alice is married and has a blended family of seven children.

Learn more about Alice’s work at JPMorgan Chase and check out additional episodes of EMERGE Everywhere.

Episode Transcript

Jennifer Tescher:
The tragic murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man by a white Minneapolis police officer captured in eight minutes 46 seconds of heart-wrenching video, became a new symbol of racial inequity in America. And this was on top of the health and financial health of minority communities already disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of that pain-filled summer of 2020, JP Morgan Chase, the largest bank in the United States, announced a significant response: A new $30 billion commitment over the next five years to provide economic opportunity to the underserved, especially Black and Latinx communities. My guest today, after a remarkable 30-plus year career at the bank, was called upon to lead this massive effort. Alice Rodriguez is Chase’s new head of community practices, engagement and inclusion. We’ll talk to her about the bank’s renewed commitment to mitigate economic inequalities in society, the most valuable lessons she learned from her immigrant parents, and how she hopes to lift up Black and Latinx communities. Alice, welcome to Emerge Everywhere.

Alice Rodriguez:
Thank you, Jennifer. Happy to be here.

Jennifer Tescher:
So we’ll talk a little bit more about your personal journey, your background, how you got here, in a little bit. But first I want to start with this new role you’ve taken on. As I mentioned at the top, in October of 2020 JPMC launched a new $30 billion commitment to provide economic opportunity to underserved communities, really as a response to the racial awakening of last year. But I know that after your 30 years at JPMC that you were actually preparing to retire. In fact, I think this may have been the fourth time you were preparing to retire. And then JPMC CEO Jamie Dimon asked you to come back and lead this effort. So why did you say yes?

Alice Rodriguez:
Well, Jennifer, you’re absolutely spot on. It’s not that I don’t like JP Morgan Chase, but like many people, I’ve just been at a pivotal place just trying to understand how I can drive my purpose more broadly. But I did get the phone call from my boss, Thasunda Duckett, as well as Gordon Smith and my conversation with Jamie, and the reason I decided to delay my retirement once more was: As I saw the things that were happening from a COVID perspective to the Latinx community, to the Black community in particular, as you already said, even prior to the civil unrest, the disease was really having a disproportionate impact on communities, and I saw that first-hand. And I just thought that if there was an organization that could truly, truly think about the racial wealth divide in this country and make changes, structurally within itself, to make a difference, JP Morgan Chase was the one that could do it. And I wanted to be a part of that.

Jennifer Tescher:
So tell us a little bit more about your work at Chase over these 30 years, I know you held numerous roles, to help give us a sense of why you felt that a bank could play such an important role in this systemic and societal issue.

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah so in my tenure here at the bank I’ve had the real privilege of leading teams on the ground, client-facing, on the consumer side, on the business banking side, and as I think about those conversations that I would have with those clients coming in wanting to obviously do all the things we all dream about. Sending your kids to college, being able to own a home, being able to save for your retirement. All of those goals, it doesn’t matter what social economic background you come from, everybody has the same dreams. And so I think that as I thought about those conversations that I had with, I don’t know Jennifer, if I had to guess, thousands and thousands of customers over those years, this got me to thinking about: Okay when you think about the key drivers of wealth, and what you need to do, homeownership comes to the top.

So does everyone have accessibility to understanding how they get there? When you think about what the role that savings plays, the role that intergenerational wealth transfer plays, all of those key drivers, obviously a financial institution has a big role. Think about the capital that one needs to start their own business. And I’m sure that many people out there have seen a lot of the statistics in terms of some of the real opportunities out there. So for instance, Latinx and Black entrepreneurs start their businesses with 50% less capital than white entrepreneurs. So as a banker you pause and you say, “Well why is that? Truly, why is that?” So your question was: Why JP Morgan? Why this financial institution? Well because when you think about what we do everyday to help our clients, we could have a real impact on understanding those root causes, and then more importantly, think about the solutions at a very local level that can have impact.

Jennifer Tescher:
Got it. So your CEO, Jamie Dimon, appears to have really increased his focus on the economic inequalities in society and what can be done to mitigate them, even before the events of last summer. For instance, in his letter to shareholders last May, in May of 2020, which was really the early stages of the pandemic and it was just prior to George Floyd’s murder, he recognized how the virus was exacerbating the health and economic inequities that already existed for people of color. And then he wrote this, and I quote: “This crisis must serve as a wake up call and a call to action for business and government to think, act and invest for the common good, and confront the structural obstacles that have inhibited inclusive economic growth for years.”

Now, the company has long invested in and provided philanthropic support to disadvantaged communities. But this new commitment, this $30 billion commitment that you’re now stewarding, really seems to raise the bar. So how have the events of 2020 been a catalyst toward shaping the culture of the bank towards and around this mission? And are there any other key drivers besides last year’s events? For instance, I think about the fact that you often see reports in the press that maybe at some point in the not too distant future Jamie Dimon will be preparing to retire. Does that have any impact? Talk to us about how Chase arrived at this moment.

Alice Rodriguez:
I think that Jamie has long had a history of staying very focused with what the pain points are across the entire landscape, in addition, to obviously the institution that he runs. And I think that he wants to bring solutions to the challenges. And he’s always had that mindset. And I think that with the events of 2020, we heard over and over “unprecedented” right? “This has never happened.” Obviously the last pandemic 100 years ago. People were in a lot of pain, both from an economic perspective and a health perspective, and it brings a whole new level of anxiety to everyone. And we saw that within our own organization, with our own employees worried about their own health, as well as with the communities that we serve.

So I think that it was that perfect storm that said, “Okay we’ve always had a very strong focus philanthropically in the cities that we serve. How do we take that lens and pair it with how the business thinks about solutions that they provide clients, about how we think about the markets, about how we think about just innovation, et cetera, and put those things together so that we could figure out within not just our own organization but more broadly, with the partners that we have, so that we make more progress and that we amplify those solutions?” And so I think that’s what’s really different, Jennifer. If I was to think about my 34 years at the bank and everyone we’ve ever done to serve our communities, we’ve never really integrated those two parallel paths, and then established real strong accountability around, “Okay. We’ve got to figure out now how we do that.”

So when you make a bold commitment like we have, which is very focused on lending, lending on the affordable housing side as well as on the small business side, as well some of the investments we’re making from a financial health perspective. When you make a bold statement like that, it forces you to really lean in and decide what you have to amend or start over with or change within your infrastructure to make that happen.

Jennifer Tescher:
Well, and you have direct experience with that, maybe on a smaller scale, because when we first Alice it was because of a new role that you had assumed around, if I have it correct, managing your mass market customer segment for the consumer bank, and really being asked to think differently about both the potential of those customers and the way to engage them. That was both good for the business and good for them. Talk a little bit about that experience and how it may have, in a funny way, prepared you even more for this moment.

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah. So I had always been in positions where I inherited a portfolio of clients, whether it was on the business banking side or the consumer side. And so it’s already an existing business, and it’s got a strategy on those customers. And you’re not having to start to know as much, or just start with a white sheet of paper and figuring out how you make these needs. And so when I was asked to look at our mass market segment and determine whether or not we were meeting all the needs of those customers, it really required a clear understanding of what is it that what, as you recall Jennifer, we coined as everyday people, what are the pain points that everyday people have? And having grown up in very humble type of environment, I knew what that meant. I knew what it meant to worry about how you’d put food on the table. Not that I had to worry about that, obviously. It was my parents who had to worry about that.

But if I think back on the conversations that we had at the dinner table, it wasn’t about, “How do we save more? How do we make more with our money? What’s happening in the capital markets?” Sometimes I would joke with T, Thasunda Duckett, that the conversation that we had about the market was, “Hey there’s a sale going on at the grocery store.” They called that the market, right? So I guess my point being that, for me, that assignment to think about everyday people, and to think about how we could do a better job of providing the right tools, the right marketing, the right training for our bankers, was very exciting to me because I loved, loved, loved being in front of customers and understanding how we could help. But this was a whole different way to think about how to help millions of customers across the board based on some of the things we had on our roadmap.

Jennifer Tescher:
Yeah. A big theme of this show is really taking off our blinders and seeing people in 3D, in all of their complexity and humanity. And what you just said reminds me of that idea, that I think that the people who often are most drawn to this work, and are most successful at it, are those that, either through their own lived experience or just their empathy, are really able to see people and relish the opportunity to understand people fully, because at the end of the day that’s who we’re working on behalf of. And so I really appreciate hearing your story. So let’s get back now to the $30 billion commitment and your job today. It’s a big job. I think that the commitment is organized around four key pillars. Talk to us a little bit about what those pillars are, how the bank came up with this plan, and what’s the process for executing on it.

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah so as you said there’s four pillars, and everything that got solidified as our plan was all grounded, obviously, in research and partnering with the different organizations and nonprofits that focus on racial equity, everything that drives wealth creation. And so I’m really proud that we were thoughtful around how we did this, and a lot of it stemmed from some of the work that Jamie did with the Business Roundtable. But there are four pillars, and the first is affordable housing. So the supply side of things. So we recognized that across America there are some real challenges for consumers where they live in a very cost-burdened city and the affordability just isn’t there from a housing perspective. And so we really focus on the supply side because it’s very hard for people to make progress in their financial lives if they can’t even afford to pay the rent that they’re having to pay.

The second pillar is on the other side of the coin, which is affordable lending. So again, when we think about one of the key drivers of wealth creation for people, it is home ownership. So ensuring that we have the right products in place, the right approaches, so that we did a better job from an affordable lending perspective.

The next pillar was around minority small businesses. So again, specifically thinking about small businesses being, again, one of the wealth creators for people, and especially true, by the way, in minority communities.
And the fourth was around financial health, because as we saw what is needed to be prepared for that home ownership, well they have to have a good FICO score, they have to have savings to put down in order to buy that home, they have to have the right tools. And we really had a very specific lens around the number of unbanked and underbanked people that there are in America. And I know that people are shocked when you give them the FDA statistic, around 10 million households being unbanked, but it’s true. And no one knows that better than you Jennifer. And so being able to be very specific about these four key areas, and more importantly holding the lines of business accountable to the incremental lending that we were wanting to do around affordable housing, around affordable lending, around small business, and then the investment we wanted to make as it related to financial health.

Jennifer Tescher:
So particularly with the lending initiatives, how is this different than what the bank already does as it relates to its CRA, it’s community reinvestment act, responsibilities and commitment?

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah. So we have that commitment and obviously we’re always very focused on our CRA commitments. But this is like going about and beyond that, and really challenging ourselves in thinking about things from an incremental perspective. And challenging ourselves from the standpoint of everything from marketing. When we think about our marketing plans, are we doing a good job of marketing? And again, as you know, the commitment, and you said this at the first part of the podcast, is very focused on Black and Latinx, because that’s where we see the biggest gaps. But when we think about it from a marketing perspective, culturally are we culturally relevant? Are we marketing ourselves in the right venues? Are we using the right mechanisms? It’s really challenging ourselves around our product. Is our product competitive? Does it make sense? Should we think about some additional enhancements?

So an example, if you’re thinking about a first-time home buyer, should we think about a larger grant to help them with the down payment assistance? So it was just really challenging ourselves around: How do you get more people in the funnel and ensure that you are in the right places, and that you’re able to capture the audience in a way that is different than you have done in the past?

Jennifer Tescher:
Am I wrong, or is there also an element to this plan that’s around building a more diverse and inclusive workforce of your own?

Alice Rodriguez:
So that’s part of the path forward as well, and my colleague Brian Lamb is our new head of diversity and inclusion, and he owns that stripe. And I say, “Thank goodness that I have a wonderful partner.” He’s focused on many things, but a very large part of his realm obviously is internally. How do we rehab the right pipelines, the right representation at all levels, again with a very strong lens around Black and Latinx?

Jennifer Tescher:
Okay that’s helpful. Now let’s talk a little bit more about your role specifically. Is it herder of cats? Is it project manager extraordinaire? Is it a bully pulpit? Or is it all of those things? Because what you said earlier about really pulling this through the business in a way that maybe you hadn’t to this extent before, would suggest to me it’s about embedding it in everything. And I can only imagine what’s required to get everyone on board and pulling in the same direction.

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah so it’s a little bit of all of the above, as you mentioned. But I see myself as the chief collaborator and counselor in this whole thing. So from my perspective, the number one thing I have to stay grounded in is helping the CEOs to get relevant to what the issues are at a local level. So we’re a very large national bank, and obviously our CEOs and our leaders have a lot to think about. So they might not understand all of the nuances as it relates to advancing racial equity in particular geographies that we do business in. So a big part of my job is to help them understand, “Okay we’ve got this $30 billion commitment, and we all know what we’re trying to accomplish across all four pillars. But let me help you prioritize: What are some of the local communities that we’re in that might require some reinforcements? And more importantly, a localized plan for that city to make the kind of progress that we want to.” And in order to do that, I need to provide them with at least some analysis on what’s going on in that city.

So an example of that would be, I’ll just use Houston, Texas as an example. A third of their population is unbanked and underbanked. 53% of their adults are Black or Latinx. And if you pull children in, that is a city that 75% of their residents are Black and brown.

Jennifer Tescher:
And Alice are you in Houston or Dallas? I forget.

Alice Rodriguez:
I live in Dallas.

Jennifer Tescher:
Dallas, okay.

Alice Rodriguez:
When you look at the housing supply there, 25% of their affordable housing supply was pretty much decimated as a result of Hurricane Harvey a few years ago. So these are all facts, not to mention that when you look at just all of the challenges they’ve had with COVID given that it’s a very strong Latinx, Black community, as I already mentioned, these are probably things that the business is not as aware of. They’re looking at very macro items. And so the point that I’m trying to bring up here is that in order for us to figure out whether or not their lined up business strategies really hit the pain points of this city, I have to provide them first with the analysis. I have to provide them a view of: What are our community leaders saying in Houston? Well this requires doing roundtables with community leaders. Let’s make sure that we’re hitting on the things that are important to them. Working with my corporate responsibility colleagues who are on the ground trying to address some of these pain points.

And once we do all that and we develop this plan, we’ll become accountable. So again, the whole point here is that we’re going to get incremental growth over the five years, and the way I think about my role is not just point out the facts to them, but being a collaborator around the solutions they put in place. And then just challenging some of the strategies that they have. So if they’re not, as an example, doing as much local marketing in one community over the other, why not? And how could we change that? And so it’s a very strong influencing role. And the way that I plan to influence is with facts, and more importantly hopefully helping people to, what I call digest the problem that the community is facing and then figuring out: How do you have a win-win? How do you maintain profitability and all of those things that are important to the line of business? Which, they have to, right? That’s their job. But how can they do that while they’re also doing good in the community and not having to give up as much?

Jennifer Tescher:
So one would think with a CEO who’s as vocal on this as Jamie is that you wouldn’t have to do a lot of influencing, shall we say. But I’m guessing that it’s a big company and some of this is actually about challenging long standing beliefs that may just come from a lack of data or information. How hard is this?

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah, I think the way I would describe this is that it is an organization, like many large organizations, that is aligned around lines of business. And as a result, you don’t necessarily always have the right pipes to think about problems at a super local level. And so how do I help them connect those pipes a little bit better so that they’re able to do that? That’s number one. And then I think secondly, when they’ve had success doing something a certain way, like in many instances in life, it’s like, “Well why change it? Why do I need to do things a little bit different? Because this has worked for a long time.” But my experience has been, once I’m able to help them see the problem at a different angle, they start to see the need then to start being more innovative about solutions.

And again, how can you do it in a way where… Obviously I want them to be successful in everything that they’re doing, and I acknowledge that they’ve had success doing things they’ve been doing them. But how much more could you do if you were just to tweak some things in a different way that would allow us, again, to amplify?

Jennifer Tescher:
So you’re really the Warby Parker. You’re handing out different lenses, different glasses, to enable people to see just a little bit differently. That’s interesting. So you’ve talked a lot about accountability, which is great. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you’ll know if you’re successful, how the company will know it’s successful. What kinds of goals have you set, aside from a giant dollar amount? And talk a little bit about how that accountability is being driven through internal processes, whether that’s performance plans, compensation, et cetera, to the degree that you’re able to share.

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah, we have a lot of governance around how we’re managing Path Forward commitments. And every line of business is handling how they want to internally, whether that’s through scorecards, et cetera. And for the most part, they all have some element of the Path Forward in those scorecards. But I would say, in my mind, success looks like we’re not having to… We have built the right processes in place, so it’s not as challenging to get things. We’re acting very nimbly in the organization, that we can start to see, in these communities that we’re trying to make an impact, that our financial rights are changing.

Because I couldn’t agree with you more, Jennifer. It’s not about checking the box and counting the wedges. I mean we’re going to do that, but if we don’t really create a process where there’s sustainability here, and that overtime you actually see that wealth gap narrowing, then I would say that we didn’t do our jobs right, that something was amiss around there. And that’s why I feel very passionate around, we have to really change the DNA of the place a little bit in order to get to where we’re wanting to get around that narrowing of the wealth gap. Because that’s the true test, is that over time that we can definitely see that in these communities that we’re focused on.

Jennifer Tescher:
And how will you measure that, essentially? You’ll measure it local community by local community?

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah. So we prioritize communities across the country. I mean all of the places we do business in are important, of course. There are 15 markets across the country that represent just about half of the Black and Latinx underserved. And so in my mind, for us to make progress in those markets is extremely critical. I mean that’s where you’ll know that yes, the solutions that we put in place. So in my mind, again, you’re really looking for whether you’re measuring customer satisfaction, but specifically trust in these communities, that you start to see that indicator going up. That you start to see an improvement in the number of people that you’re bringing into banking systems.

So again, looking at the unbanked and the under baked numbers for these communities and recognizing whether or not you’re improving your penetration there. So we have a set of metrics aside from the $30 billion widget numbers that will help us understand whether or not we really have the community engagement that we’re looking for. And to me, a lot of that is measured by the trust, and it’s measured by the number of people that we’re able to bring into our banking system.

Jennifer Tescher:
Yeah. That’s great. Five years is a relatively short period of time to be moving the needle significantly as it relates to the wealth gap numbers. And one thing that I think about is whether measuring financial health is a nice intermediate measure that suggests we’re directionally correct, because we can see changes in people’s financial health on a year-to-year basis. And that may be helpful given that the duration of this initiative is five years.

Alice Rodriguez:
I think that’s well said, Jennifer. And 100%, by the way, because financial health is one of our pillars, and all of those things that we look at like savings rates, like credit scores improving, et cetera, are absolutely critical. And I agree with you. If you look at that median net worth for a white household, it’s 188,000. For a Latino household it’s 36,000, and for a Black household it’s 21,000. So to your point, those are serious gaps, and it was, let’s be honest here, hundreds of years of different reasons why that is the case. So we don’t be naïve into thinking that in five years we’ve completely come to parity. But I do agree with you that it is the financial health measures, it’s the stuff that I’ve spoken about already. And you just want to, in my opinion, make some meaningful difference in those financial health measures to help you have that confidence as you mentioned for the future years.

Jennifer Tescher:
So if this weren’t enough to focus on, I understand that you were recently named the chair of the board for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Congratulations.

Alice Rodriguez:
Thank you.

Jennifer Tescher:
And for those who aren’t familiar, the Hispanic Chamber represents more than 4.7 million businesses nationwide, and its members contribute $700 billion to the economy each year. Now I know that serving Latinx communities is important to you, both personally and professionally. You’re a daughter of immigrants, and you talked a little bit earlier about your growing up life. How did that shape your worldview in terms of money and work? And what are lessons that you’ve learned from your upbringing that you carry with you today?

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah, so my mother was the immigrant, just to be factually correct. My dad was actually from the US. But my mother came from a family of 12, and my grandfather died when she was about 13 years old. My grandmother did not read or write. And so it was very challenging for my grandmother to raise all of her children by herself. And so she ended up sending some of her children to live with other relatives, and that’s how my mother ended up immigrating to the US, living with family that were already here. So I would say that the thing that I really valued the most about both of my parents is neither one of them had more than a middle school education, and particularly my mother because my mother is the one who really raised us. What she lacked in education, she made up for in very strong work ethic and very strong family values. She was a very strong, faith-based person.

So we were raised to be very fearful of doing the wrong thing. But those are the things that really drove me, and I remember, Jennifer, my mom had lots of nieces and nephews. I have 50 first cousins, just because of the size of my family.

Jennifer Tescher:
My goodness.

Alice Rodriguez:
And I have several of my uncles and my cousins that used to do migrant work. And so there was a few summers where we spent in Chicago because my mother was going to go do migrant work with some of her nephews in Indiana. So we would drive up there, and my mother with four children. Keep in mind she doesn’t really speak English. She doesn’t really understand the lay of the US very much. But she just had so much perseverance to succeed. And so she would drop me off with an aunt, my sister with another aunt so she’s not burdening too many people with taking care of her children while she went and worked. And my point of the story is, I’ll never forget going to, at that time it was the Sears Tower, and I’m about eight years old and I grew up in Brownsville, Texas, where the tallest building was three stories. And going to see the Sears Tower was overwhelming.

But what struck me in going to see the Sears Tower is that people were walking into that building in nice suits, and they had briefcases. And as a kid, it just, “Well how come nobody in our family works here? Everybody works in meat markets or they’re doing migrant work or they’re doing jobs that are more manual in nature.” And I remember asking my aunt when we got home, “Why doesn’t anybody in our family work at the Sears Tower?” And she just… It was one of those things where children were… What’s that saying? They’re to be seen, not heard. And so pretty much she just, “Go outside and play.” And mind your own business kind of thing. But I share that because I really believe that that inspiration was all about, “Okay I don’t know what I’m going to do when I grow up, but I want to work at the Sears Tower. I don’t want to work doing those other jobs.”

And I’m not at all disparaging the things that my family did to put food on the table, but I also just felt like it was that little thing nagging, like, “Why? Why? Why?” So I share all that because I think that as I reflect back on the skills that I bring to the table, I feel like I learned a lot of leadership from my mother. I feel like I’m scrappy. So when people tell me, “How have you managed to be at JP Morgan Chase and its predecessors for 34 years?” I think it’s because I’m scrappy, and I figure out how to get things done. And I often think about what I do everyday. I get to help people. And I work in air conditioning, and I think about what my family did. My dad was a shrimper. He was gone for months at a time. I mean that’s hard work. And so I think that those life skills are what has helped me think about not just the things I’m doing at the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but in my job at JP Morgan. And it’s helpful.

Jennifer Tescher:
That’s an incredible story. I really appreciate you sharing that. The past year has brought a lot of attention to the impact of systemic racism on Black communities. But at the same time, the pandemic has also had a tremendous and tragic impact on the Latinx community. And you’ve said before that that community is among the most hard-hit, demographically. Do you worry at all that the Latinx community has been underestimated or overlooked as we work to address societal inequalities? I know that the JP Morgan Chase commitment is inclusive of both the Latinx and Black communities. But maybe with your hat on from the US Hispanic Chamber, I’d love to hear your reflection on that. And as the nation reckons with the legacy of slavery and the historical impact on Black communities, what else do we need to do as a nation to ensure that we’re also focusing on the systemic inequities faced by the Latinx community?

Alice Rodriguez:
I have been, quite candidly, disappointed but there hasn’t been enough in the news media about the impact. In fairness, I’ve seen more probably in the last three months or so that highlights some of the challenges. But to be candid, it just doesn’t make sense. Latinos are 18.5% of the whole population here in the US, and it’s a very young group. I mean the average age is 30. The most common in a household is 11. And so when you think about consumer spending being 70% of GDP, for the next three decades this is your base that is going to drive the economy. And so being focused on the fact that Latinos have been hospitalized like three times more than any other group, that one in six are essential workers. So think about that. Or rather, one in six don’t have jobs that they can do from home. They have to be on the frontlines, and we over index in industries that are essential workers. 72% of them right now surveyed say they’ve got financial problems right now because they’ve taken more pay cuts, they’ve been laid off.

So I can go on and on, but I do think that, and I believe this as chairwomen of the US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, that you cannot get to the economic progress that we need to make as a country and get out of this recession without going to the Latino community. You have to be able to address the pain points there. So I know at the Chamber, we’re doing everything we need to do from an advocacy perspective to ensure, particularly right now, that the new administration is aware of the efforts that we think need to be focused on to propel the Hispanic-owned businesses in the country. But also, just from a consumer standpoint, that we’re focused there as well.

Jennifer Tescher:
So $30 billion. It’s a really significant commitment. But you and I both know that it’s really a drop in the bucket relative to the need. And in some cases, the change that we need, or the need in the community, isn’t money. It’s a change in mindset or in habits or in practices, policies. I know that you’re still very early in carrying out this commitment, and are learning, I’m sure, everyday. But you sit in a unique place in leading that charge. And I wonder if you have a call to action to other companies, other organizations, people who are listening, in terms of what they can do to help be part of the solution.

Alice Rodriguez:
Yeah I think the call to action is really partnering with one another. I mean, I think that part of what we’re trying to do is say that we can’t solve it by ourselves, Jennifer. That, yes we’re proud that we’ve committed the $30 billion, but if you want real change, if you really want to amplify, it is taking all of those pain points in that community and bringing in all of the relevant partners that can focus in on the education challenges that we have around these two segments we’ve been talking about, around just the bandwidth that’s available in rural areas and urban areas, or the lack thereof. And how do we come together to solve that? So it’s taking all of those root causes, and coming together as a business community to solve them. And so the call to action is really to identify the partners that you think you need to be aligned with, and then coming up with a plan to work through those solutions together.

Jennifer Tescher:
Excellent. Well, Alice, wise words. Thank you so much for joining us on Emerge Everywhere.

Alice Rodriguez:
Thank you for having me.

Jennifer Tescher:
This has been EMERGE Everywhere, a Financial Health Network production. I’m Jennifer Tescher, and I’d love to hear your ideas for future guests and your reactions to the show. You can connect with me on Twitter @JenTescher. If you liked this episode, please review the show and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. To learn more about the work and research we do, please visit emerge.finhealthnetwork.org. See you next time.

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