New, voluntary standards promote diversity in financial services industry

By Ken Tysiac

New, voluntary standards issued jointly Tuesday by six federal agencies encourage the companies and organizations they regulate in the financial services industry to consider diversity and inclusion in many areas, including employment and contracting.

An interagency policy statement—released in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, P.L. 111-203—describes the standards. The standards do not create new legal obligations, and their use by a regulated organization is voluntary.

The standards provide a framework for creating and strengthening diversity policies and practices at entities regulated by the:

  • Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
  • Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  • FDIC.
  • National Credit Union Administration.
  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • SEC.

The standards are focused primarily on organizations with more than 100 employees, and the statement acknowledges that entities that are small or located in remote areas may have more difficulty developing diversity and inclusion.

Organizations can use the standards to develop or augment their:

  • Organizational commitment to diversity and inclusion.
  • Workforce profile and employment practices.
  • Procurement and business practices, including supplier diversity.
  • Practices to promote transparency of organizational diversity and inclusion.
  • Self-assessment of diversity and inclusion practices.

SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar released a dissenting statement saying that the voluntary nature of the standards is “woefully inadequate” and fails to meet the congressional mandate.

“A good opportunity to have real positive impact on diversity and inclusion has been squandered,” he said.

The standards will take effect upon their publication in the Federal Register.

Ken Tysiac (ktysiac@aicpa.org) is a JofA editorial director.

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