WASHINGTON The watchdog agencies for two bank regulators issued reports this week that found a lack of minorities and women at senior-level positions.
The reports on the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. recommended that the agencies bolster their diversity programs and identified statistical differences in employee evaluations by race, gender, age and bargaining status over the past three years.
The reports by the two inspectors general came at the request of the House Financial Services Committee, which launched an investigation into racial disparities found in employee evaluations at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which were reported by American Banker.
The Treasury and FDIC IGs, which issued separate reports on the OCC and FDIC, respectively, said the gender and racial differences identified at those two agencies were not proof of discrimination and were in line with trends at other federal agencies.
"It is important to understand that a statistically significant difference in ratings based on gender, race/ethnicity, age, or bargaining unit does not necessarily indicate that discrimination is occurring," said the Office of the Inspector General for the Treasury Department, which evaluated the OCC in a report released Dec. 1. "Such group differences could be due to actual differences in performance, regional differences in ratings, job family differences in ratings or some combination of all these factors."
In both reports, the inspectors general said there are systems in place to promote diversity in the workforce, but added that more can be done to promote women and minorities into senior management positions.
The report on the FDIC particularly noted a lack of Hispanics and women at the senior executive level when compared to other federal workers at the same level. It also said females tended to be rated higher than males and whites were rated higher than black employees in performance reviews though both those differences were in line with other academic studies.
In response, the FDIC accepted all of the IGs recommendations and listed 9 "corrective actions" it planned to complete next year that primarily ramp up its diversity and inclusion efforts.
"The FDIC welcomes these observations," said Barbara Ryan, the FDIC's chief operating officer and chief of staff, in a letter responding to the report released Thursday. "Although challenges remain, the FDIC is committed to working to address these challenges with a goal of narrowing representation gaps and promoting fair and equitable workplace outcomes."
Separately, the Treasury inspector general also acknowledged that the OCC has boosted diversity in its workforce. But it also noted some "statistically significant" differences in gender, race and age in employee performance reviews in 2013. For example, all of the differences were in favor of women and on a smaller magnitude, older employees.
As for race, the Treasury IG found "statistically significant performance differences" in white employees being rated higher than African-Americans overall. That difference was smaller than what's normally found in similar comparisons, the report said.
Hispanics were also rated lower than white employees, particularly in non-supervisory positions, and the watchdog agency said the difference was larger than similar studies.
The Treasury IG concluded that while the agency has increased its level of diversity in the workplace across the board, the number of women and minorities at supervisory and senior-level positions fell below workforce participation rates.
"The OCC agrees with the recommendation and remains committed to ensuring a diverse and inclusive work environment," Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said in a letter responding to the report.
The reports are part of a request made by House Democrats of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in March that also included a look at the Treasury Department, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the National Credit Union Administration.