The directors of America’s biggest banks faced criticism on Thursday from Republican lawmakers, who urged companies to refrain from intervening in social and cultural issues.
Senator Pat Toomey, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, urged banks to stop “embracing a liberal ESG (environmental, social and governance) agenda that harms America,” during an appearance of managers at a hearing.
Toomey, who often backs industry calls for loosening regulations, argued that companies are off limits when it comes to weighing in on non-banking issues like guns and abortion.
“I can’t help but notice that when banks intervene in highly charged social and political issues, they always seem to be on the progressive side,” he said in his opening statement.
Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, praised banks for “not being perfect, but they are good,” before echoing the call for caution.
The heightened scrutiny underscores the challenges the country’s largest lenders increasingly face as they try to balance commercial interests with pressure from policymakers, activists and investors to take stances on environmental, social and security issues. governance (ESG).
Among the attendees were the CEOs of the four largest banks in the United States: Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:), Charles Scharf of Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ), Brian Moynihan of Bank of America (NYSE ) and Jane Fraser of Citigroup (NYSE ).
Democrats continued their critical stance toward big banks, arguing that they enjoy huge profits while taking advantage of consumers and workers.