Corporate Social Responsibility

Capital One 2019-2020 CSR Report


There is a natural desire, born of uncertainty and anxiety, to see 2020 as an anomaly. A unique moment in time when an unprecedented global pandemic has forced us to radically alter our daily lives. To be sure, we have all, both individually and collectively, confronted a host of new challenges - from mastering the mechanics of remote work and learning to embracing the demands of social distancing. We have understood these accommodations and sacrifices to be table stakes if we are to stem the spread of this disease and set our country on the road to recovery.

However, for many segments of our society, the economic dislocation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and social inequities exposed by the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans, may be different in their proximate cause, but they are certainly not new. Instead, these events offer another window into the disparities of risks, opportunities and outcomes that persist in our society and reinforce what we know to be true: that we have much work to do to close the substantial gaps in racial justice, equality and wealth, and to ensure that everyone has a fair shot to live without fear and to achieve financial stability and well-being.

Last year, in this report, we discussed our hope that corporations had reached an important inflection point - a retreat from the absolutist view that our purpose is solely to meet the needs of our shareholders and embrace the view that we are accountable to a broader array of stakeholders. That pivot came at a time of relative prosperity, where the economy was enjoying healthy growth and historically low levels of unemployment. As is often the case, this conceptual commitment was tested quickly by actual events. In March of this year, it was evident to all that we would be confronting challenges few of us were prepared to address.

The events of 2020 have underscored the need for corporations not only to aspire to see themselves and their purpose differently, but also to demonstrate what that difference looks like in a time of crisis. To serve as beacons of resilience. As engines of recovery. As forces for social change. As advocates for justice.

Capital One was founded on the principle that great talent, great analytics and great technology could revolutionize financial services and democratize credit. Our story is unique among large banking institutions: We are founder-led, Mission-driven, and committed to serving the needs of the full spectrum of consumers--from those seeking best-in-class rewards to those taking their first step towards financial inclusion and independence. Our customer base is large and diverse, and we are proud to play an important role in our customers’ lives along each step of their journey.

We have always sought to ensure that our community and philanthropic initiatives are fully integrated into our business model. To be authentic and impactful, our goals for our customers and our communities must be clearly linked. We cannot rely on a separate and siloed “department of good works”--noble in purpose but limited in its ability to deliver impact at scale. Our team must both challenge our business units to bring our Mission to Change Banking for Good to life every day, and challenge ourselves to espouse the same commitments to great talent, analytics and technology.

That philosophy has served us well in the face of 2020’s myriad challenges. As a company and team built upon resilience, adaptability and innovation, we have chosen to seize upon the opportunity to confront this year’s challenges to refine our goals and heed this call to action. Our 2019-2020 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, The Power of Persistence, tells this story. But we see it not as a moment to reflect, but rather as an impetus to do more. The needs of our communities have never been more profound. We must be there to meet them. 

To help fulfill this obligation, we are announcing the Capital One Impact Initiative, a new five-year, $200 million commitment to advancing the goal of sustained socioeconomic mobility. We are making this commitment because our Mission to Change Banking for Good must include removing barriers to opportunity and creating pathways to financial success that will help enable vibrant futures for all. This commitment is built upon three core pillars: 1) advocating for an inclusive society; 2) building thriving communities; and 3) creating financial tools that enrich lives. Our key areas of focus, as outlined in this report, will be workforce development, small business recovery, affordable housing and financial well-being. 

At the beginning of the year, our goal was to release this report at the end of March. As we approached that deadline, it became clear that we would soon have a very different set of priorities and a very different story to tell. Though we have much to learn, our broader goals have not changed: We remain undaunted in our long-standing commitment to, and hope for, a society where sustained socioeconomic mobility is achievable and not elusive. But in 2020, we must also tell a story of persistence in the wake of unprecedented hardship, adaptability in the face of changing needs and innovation in the pursuit of a better way. Only then can we hope to live up to the goals espoused in our Mission - to be a catalyst not only in our nation’s collective recovery, but also an advocate for an inclusive recovery that lifts us all.

Be safe,
Andy Navarrete
Executive Vice President, Head of External Affairs

Learn more about Sustainability at Capital One.

Learn more about Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging at Capital One.

Learn more about Capital One's Commitments.

Read Capital One's 2019-2020 CSR Report.