One area of banking activity that is closely related to ethical practices is the extension of credit. Changes have been leveled at banks and bankers for decades in relation to the extension of mortgage, business, and community development credit to members of minority population groups and to residents of neighborhoods and communities with predominantly minority group populations. The discriminatory and unethical practice of-which banking and bankers are accused is known as redlining. Many bankers and some economists, however, contend that banking is being criticized unfairly, and that loan denials to minorities are neither discriminatory nor unethical. This research examines the issue of discrimination in the context of race and ethnicity in the extension of credit as an ethical behavior in the banking workplace.
Bias in lending on the basis of race and ethnic background has an extensive history--both actual and perceived--in the United States. Such bias is charged and investigated most frequently in relation to home mortgages; however, bias in the extension of business loans has also constituted a significant problem in American society over the decades. Discrimination in the extension of credit is volatile issue in the United States. Although federal government efforts to end such discrimination have been pursued for two decades, critics contend that much work is still required.7
Discrimination in lending is a part of the larger problem of housing discrimination. Lending discrimination exists in the United States with respect to a variety of factors. The most publicized form of discrimination is that associated with racial and ethnic background. Such discrimination is also based at times on age, sexual preference, behavior, and other factors.
The means by which discrimination is applied to lending vary. Overt refusal to lend money to an individual because of racial or ethnic background is not only illegal ...