By Pamela J. Bethel
We have already written about Section 342 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires that financial regulatory agencies set up Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. The purpose of these offices is both to encourage diversity of employment within the agencies themselves and to promote diversity in hiring and contracting within the financial services industries that the agencies regulate.
The Dodd-Frank Act also mandated the establishment of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, with broad jurisdiction to protect consumers from fraud and overreaching by companies in the financial services industries. The CFPB, like the other agencies, is required to set up an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. Since the CFPB didn’t really get off the ground until January 2012, when President Barack Obama appointed Richard Cordray as its permanent director, it took the agency a little longer to name a head of the minority and women inclusion office.
When it made the hire, though, the CFPB seems to have selected someone with considerable background and clout. Just named on April 30, 2012, was Stuart Ishimaru, formerly a commissioner and acting chairman of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Ishimaru certainly understands the importance of diversity and the ins and outs of the government contracting system. He has a major task ahead of him at the CFPB. According to a statement that Cordray made on Ishimaru’s appointment, his office “will work to assess diversity at the financial institutions that the [CFPB] regulates.”
And, said Cordray, “we will collaborate with our sister federal agencies to do this in the most streamlined way possible. We will develop standards for assessing diversity policies and practices of our regulated entities. This is a big job – working with banks and nonbanks to develop systems that make sense.”
“Presented before us is a tremendous opportunity for the Bureau to encourage diversity throughout a financial services industry that has not traditionally reflected all of its customers,” Cordray said.
Ishimaru wrote on the CFPB website: “Years ago I saw an opportunity to do great work for Americans who are often underrepresented and underserved. It has been my passion to work to ensure that those people have a voice and fair access to opportunities. I believe that equal opportunities, diversity, and inclusion are what make this country thrive – they are what make us great.”
Given the spotty historical record of banks and allied industries in hiring and promoting women and minorities, and in contracting with women- and minority-owned companies, Ishimaru will be busy. His background is just what the CFPB needs.