Citigroup Inc. quietly boosted its minimum wage to $15 an hour, joining competitors in awarding raises to rank-and-file staff, after House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters prodded the firm.
Unlike other major banks that announced similar moves in news releases, Citigroup disclosed its decision directly to Waters after she asked Chief Executive Michael Corbat whether he would consider raising the minimum to $20. The move to $15 took effect June 1, the bank told her in a statement, according to a copy of the exchange released by the Los Angeles Democrat’s office on Tuesday.
A spokesman for the New York-based company declined to elaborate on how much the move might boost employees’ pay and offered no additional comment. Median pay at Citigroup rose 3% to $49,766 in 2018, bank data cited by Waters’ office show.
Corbat stood in a lineup of seven leaders of major U.S. banks at an April hearing, where lawmakers took turns chiding them over a wide range of issues. At one point, representatives noted that Citigroup pays its CEO about 486 times more than the median for employees. Waters posed her question to Corbat as a follow-up to that session. And since that appearance, Corbat has said the nation’s widening income gap ranks high on the list of things that keep him up at night.
Waters has used such events to wrest incremental changes from banks. Ahead of that hearing, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it would stop financing private prisons. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. set more aggressive targets for improving diversity.
Last year, JPMorgan increased its minimum wage to a range of $15 to $18, a move that’s primarily affected 22,000 of its full- and part-time workers in branches and call centers across the country. Bank of America Corp. has said it plans to raise its minimum wage to $20 over the next two years. Wells Fargo & Co., the fourth-largest U.S. bank behind Citigroup, announced in late 2017 that it was boosting its minimum wage to $15.
Throughout the industry, banks typically pay branch staff far less than people in their securities businesses or operations serving corporations and the wealthy. And in contrast to other large U.S. banks, Citigroup has a smaller branch footprint in its home country. Instead, it operates an unusually large consumer division internationally.