Minimum wage is haunting JPMorgan.
On Friday’s earnings call with the press, CEO Jamie Dimon no doubt intended to boast about the bank’s better-than-expected performance in the first quarter of the year. But he couldn’t avoid the minimum wage subject.
Reporters questioned whether JPMorgan (JPM) intended to meet Bank of America’s (BAC) recent pledge to up minimum wage to $20 an hour by 2021. Dimon said raising wages was “not an arms race.”
“We take very good care of our entry-level employees,” he said, noting the bank paid $35,000 to $37,000 for starting salaries plus benefits.
“When you look at wages, you better look at other people. The banking sector is pretty good,” Dimon said. He questioned whether media companies like CNBC or the New York Times paid employees right out of high school this well.
During a House Financial Committee hearing on Wednesday, major US bank CEOs, including Dimon, were repeatedly pressed on pay, particularly in relation to their multi-million-dollar compensation packages. Rep. Katie Porter claimed during the hearing that a single parent in a starting job at JPMorgan couldn’t make ends meet.
JPMorgan pays entry level employees between $15 and $18 per hour, depending on their location, with salaries in major cities being higher.
“We believe we pay fairly and competitively,” added Marianne Lake, JPMorgan’s chief financial officer.
Earlier this week, Amazon’s (AMZN) Jeff Bezos challenged his peers in the retail world to up their minimum pay.
Could Dimon be succeeded by a woman?
Besides minimum wage, Dimon was also pressed on whether he could be succeeded by a woman — Lake, for example.
During Wednesday’s House hearing, the seven Caucasian male CEOs were asked by show of hands whether they thought a woman or person of color would succeed them. Dimon kept his hand down.
“We don’t comment on succession,” he said on Friday’s call, also pointing out that it is of course JPMorgan’s board that appoints a CEO, not the departing executive, and that the timeline mattered as well.
“We have exceptional women and my successor might well be a woman,” he said, addingt that there were plenty of people in the bank’s operating committee that could fill Dimon’s shoes after his departure.
JPMorgan declined to further comment on the matter.