Representative Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) called on President Barack Obama to forward a plan to resolve the race and gender discrimination issues at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In a March 8 letter to the President, Duffy said the plan should include “the possible removal of Director Cordray and replacing him with a professional who will not tolerate or cover up this kind of behavior.”
Last week, during a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, Angela Martin, a CFPB employee, testified about multiple instances of sexism and racism within the agency. Martin described the CFPB as a place where “…women are seen crying in their offices after suffering from abuse.” She claimed that some employees have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from the hostile work environment. Martin said one particular division of the bureau is referred to with a derogatory name “The Plantation” by some CFPB staff. Martin claims Director Cordray attempted to stop her from sharing these abuses by offering her placement in the bureau’s office of enforcement.
In response to pressure from Duffy and other members of Congress, the CFPB said it plans to ramp up diversity training and teach hiring managers to spot unconscious biases, the bureau said in the annual report of its Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. “We are taking concerns about employee ratings seriously,” the CFPB said in the report. “We are fully committed to making sure that our talented and our diverse staff are treated fairly and with the respect they deserve, and we hold the Bureau to the standards of fairness that we expect of the companies and industries it regulates.”
After the Dodd-Frank Act created the CFPB in 2010, the bureau built its workforce rapidly. Now, it wants to attract a more diverse applicant pool and focus on creating a consistent, inclusive culture, the CFPB said.
The CFPB first came under pressure for disparate treatment of minorities and women after the American Banker newspaper published internal CFPB data showing white employees received a top performance rating in 2013 twice as often as African-American or Hispanic employees. The bureau has “growing pains and opportunities for improvement, most recently in the Bureau’s performance management system,” said Stuart Ishimaru, the head of the bureau’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, eluding to the published data. “There is growing recognition of the need to manage diversity effectively to ensure that the workplace is hospitable and inclusive for everyone.”