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Feds eye banks’ diversity policies

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Monday, October 28, 2013
Posted: 1 pm ET

Six federal agencies have proposed new standards for how they assess the employment diversity policies and practices of the banks, savings and loans, and other financial institutions they regulate.

The primary purpose of the standards is to improve transparency and awareness of diversity policies and practices within the institutions, according to a statement issued jointly by the agencies. Other goals include giving the public a way to assess the companies' diversity policies and practices and facilitate greater awareness and transparency of those policies and practices.

"Greater diversity and inclusion promotes stronger more effective and more innovative businesses as well as opportunities to serve a wider range of customers," the agencies said in their proposed policy statement.

As proposed, the standards cover the financial companies' commitment to diversity and inclusion, workforce profile and employment practices, supplier diversity and procurement practices, and practices that promote transparency and organizational diversity and inclusion.

The standards take into account such variables as asset size, number of employees, governance structure, income, number of members or customers, contract volume, location and community characteristics, the agencies said.

The six agencies are the Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., National Credit Union Administration, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Each agency already has its own Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

These offices are required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to develop standards for assessing financial institutions' diversity policies and practices. To accomplish that, the offices held discussions with banks, credit unions and industry trade groups to solicit input and learn about the challenges and successes of financial companies' current diversity programs and policies. Discussions also were held with financial professionals, consumer advocates and community representatives, the agencies said.

The standards will not be used for regulatory examinations, but rather for assessments of the companies' diversity policies and practices.

The proposed policy statement will be open to public comment for 60 days after it's published in the official Federal Register, the agencies said.

Do you think there's enough diversity in banking institutions?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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