The chief executive of Lloyds Bank (LLOY.L) has linked COVID-19 to recent unrest in the US over racism and inequality, saying the pandemic has exposed underlying issues in society.
Discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on a call with journalists, António Horta-Osório said: “The crisis has also exposed underlying inequalities that still exist in society. Like many others, I have been moved by the recent tragic events in the US and the issues raised around inclusion and diversity.”
Horta-Osório did not specifically mention the murder of George Floyd or the Black Lives Matter movement but his further comments made clear this was what we was referring to.
“It is clear that achieving and inclusive environment for everyone must be our goal, but right now we have very specific challenges that we have to address urgently for our black colleagues,” he said.
“We must all make this a priority and have all of our colleagues feel understood and included.”
Earlier this month Lloyds announced an “action plan” to improve black representation within the bank, pledging to increase the proportion of black senior leaders at the bank from 0.6% to 3% within the next five years.
Horta-Osório said Lloyds had “been making progress” on diversity in recent years but admitted it was “not good enough” when it came to black representation.
“I am committed to understanding the perspective of our black colleagues and have spent time listening to their experiences to understand what new actions we can and should take,” he said.
“As an organisation we are committed to standing against discrimination in all its forms and believe everyone has a contribution to make.”
Horta-Osório’s comments came as Lloyds Bank reported worse-than-expected half-year results. A £2.4bn ($3.1bn) provision for COVID-19 losses wiped out profits at the bank, pushing it to a £602m loss in the first six months of the year.