JPMorgan boss Jamie Dimon defended his eye-popping $31.5 million salary as the result of the country’s “free market” which “everyone should applaud” during an interview about the bank’s multibillion-dollar pledge to combat racial inequality.
The company’s board paid Dimon the massive pay package for 2020, and they’ve awarded millions more in stock options if the CEO and chairman stick around for at least five years.
“The board decides what I make,” Dimon told Axios co-founder James VandeHei in an interview that aired Sunday evening.
VandeHei suggested that Dimon — who’s worth about $2 billion, according to Forbes — could ask the board to cut his pay, but Dimon responded that JPMorgan’s board would take offense, adding that the CEO’s pay is part of an “umbrella” plan designed to retain executives.
“We have a free market in this country, which … everyone should applaud,” Dimon said.
“They could all sell their services elsewhere. I need to maintain the best team on the playing field. And I need to pay them fairly to do that. You may not like that, but that’s what it is.”
The focus of the Axios sit-down was supposed to be the bank’s pledge to contribute $30 billion over five years toward lending and other economic opportunities in underserved communities.
But the wide-ranging interview touched on various subjects such as how Dimon decides when JPMorgan ought to wade into a political subject like Texas’s recent law banning nearly all abortions in the state.
“I get a lot of stuff to take positions on, and some we do, some we don’t, some we can’t,” he said, adding that the bank follows the foreign policy of the US government, and that it’s not JPMorgan’s place to set policy with regard to other countries.
“But I’ve made it very clear: We believe in human rights. We believe in free enterprise. We believe in the capitalist system. That’s all counter to China,” he added.
At the same time, he said, after the nationwide protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, the bank “doubled down on: What can we do to help the black community?”
Dimon’s efforts in various so-called environmental, social and governance issues have drawn criticism from some on the right, including Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, who previously accused JPMorgan and other big banks of practicing “woke capitalism.”
Asked by Axios whether he is in fact “woke,” Dimon responded, “I don’t even know what that means.”
“I just look at the issues: Is it right? Is it wrong? Should you do something about it? Is it proper for your company to do?”
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