The last few weeks have been ones of deep reflection, sadness and anger in the wake of the tragic killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery—just the latest in a long history of unjust actions taken against Black Americans. Many in our society, and many at Freddie Mac, are deeply pained and upset by these events. I am one of them.
As I noted in a message to all our employees last week, it is of utmost importance that we listen, learn and respond to the voices leading this conversation. We strongly stand behind those who have spoken out in support of fairness, equality and a more just society.
Freddie Mac strives to be a leader in housing. That means recognizing that, like the broader financial system, the housing system in America has also been afflicted by the scourge of entrenched racism and discrimination.
Even during the current pandemic, the disproportionate impact to the Black community has been self-evident. While Black Americans represent 13 percent of the population, they account for about 23 percent of deaths from COVID-19, due to conditions largely created by unequal economic, housing, environmental and health care systems. Clearly, there is much work to be done.
In light of these challenges, companies like Freddie Mac have an obligation not only to call out and speak out against these inequities but also show through our actions that we are committed to change. As a majority-minority company, and one so critical to the nation’s housing landscape, we have been engaging in conversations across our company to ensure we are becoming better educated on the topic of race and helping to heal the underlying issues of inequality in housing. And I fundamentally believe that our company is and can be an even greater force for good in addressing these challenges.
Freddie Mac has worked hard for decades to carry out its mission of expanding homeownership opportunities and access to affordable rental housing for underserved borrowers, including and especially communities of color. We take our obligation to do more in terms of access and opportunity seriously.
We are redoubling our efforts to work with our strong network of partners at civil rights organizations, affinity groups within the company and housing industry organizations that represent communities of color to better meet the needs of the populations they serve. In all economic environments, we continue to make home possible for tens of thousands of homebuyers and renters across all dimensions, including race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and ability. That includes first-time and low-income owners, low-income renters, and families living in underserved communities across the United States. And we remain committed to embedding diversity and inclusion in every corner of the business and the industry, including our hiring and vendor practices.
There are no easy answers as to what policies or actions we should undertake that could bring lasting change. But we know that we cannot effectively help heal the nation’s wounds without using our diverse and inclusive culture to build a company that is better educated about issues of racial injustice and is committed to addressing the inequities in housing.
Our responsibility starts at our front door.