BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION | Report on risks of politicized de-banking at Bank of America

3.19% votes in favour
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Report on or disclose
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  • Governance
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  • Other
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United States
Resolved clause
Resolved: Shareholders request the Board of Directors of Bank of America conduct an evaluation and issue a report within the next year, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information and disclosure of anything that would constitute an admission of pending litigation, evaluating how it oversees risks related to discrimination against individuals based on their race, color, religion (including religious views), sex, national origin, or political views, and whether such discrimination may impact individuals’ exercise of their constitutionally protected civil rights.
Supporting statement
Supporting Statement: Financial institutions are essential pillars of the marketplace. Because of their unique and pivotal role in America’s economy, many federal and state laws already prohibit them from discriminating against customers. The UN Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”1 These are an important part of protecting every American’s right to free speech and free exercise of religion.

As shareholders of Bank of America, we believe it is essential for the company to provide financial services on an equal basis without regard to factors such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or social, political, or religious views.

We are concerned with recent evidence of religious and political discrimination against customers by companies in the financial services industry, as seen in recent examples2 and the 2022 Statement on Debanking and Free Speech.3

The 2023 edition of the Viewpoint Diversity Business lndex4 shows that many of the largest financial institutions include vague and subjective grounds to deny service like “reputational risk,” “social risk,” “misinformation,” “hate speech” or “intolerance.” These kinds of terms allow financial institutions to deny or restrict service for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons.

As per the 2023 Index, Bank of America is no exception to such concerns: as per VDS’ report, the Corporation’s “terms of service are imprecise and unclear.” Furthermore, as noted in the 1792 Exchange’s 2023 report, Bank of America “fail[s] to protect against discrimination based on political affiliation/views and/or religion.” Bank of America received a High Risk rating in the report, given5 its practice of “terminate[ing] business with several customers, especially ones with conservative viewpoints.”

When companies engage in this kind of discrimination, they hinder the ability of Americans to access the marketplace and instead become de facto regulators and censors. This undermines the fundamental freedoms of our country and is an affront to the public trust. Politicized de-banking can also damage the company’s reputation and ability to operate in favorable regulatory environments.

In April 2023, the religious nonprofit Indigenous Advance Ministries was de-banked with little explanation other than the nonprofit no longer aligned with Bank of America’s risk tolerance policies. Indigenous Advance Ministries is advised by the highly successful pro-religious-freedom litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom6, and recently filed a complaint with the Tennessee attorney general’s office, concerned that Bank of America was engaging in targeted financial discrimination against the nonprofit.

Filer: Leonard E. Crumpler, c/o Bowyer Research, 6300 Smithfield Street, McKeesport, PA 15135

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