WASHINGTON — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray on Friday said the agency is "determined" to foster a workplace where employees are treated with the same fairness the bureau demands for financial consumers.

"We understand diversity as a core principle and a way of being, rather than just a series of occasional check-the-box exercises," Cordray said in prepared remarks to a San Francisco conference of the Greenlining Institute. "We have set high standards for ourselves and our work, as reflected in our high levels of diversity in hiring and contracting. But meeting these standards across the board requires commitment at the highest levels, and that must begin with me as the head of the agency."

The CFPB is facing questions in the wake of an American Banker article reporting disparities between how minorities were evaluated in performance reviews versus evaluation of white employees. Following the article, the bureau said it would eliminate its performance management system, and lawmakers have vowed to investigate CFPB employment practices.

Addressing an economic summit hosted by Greenlining — a group committed to expanding financial opportunities for minority groups — Cordray said the agency's workplace standards correspond with its consumer protection mission.

"Increasingly, we are focused on achieving diversity and inclusion not only in hiring and contracting, but also in matters of our culture and the career development of our colleagues," Cordray said. "Issues have arisen within the bureau that bring these considerations into sharp relief, and we are determined to address them appropriately to make sure our own employees are being treated fairly, just as we insist that financial institutions must treat consumers fairly."

He added that the CFPB "cannot afford sameness and groupthink.

"We are standing up for all Americans in the consumer financial marketplace, and we need to understand the broad and varying outlook of those we serve," Cordray said. "Diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences are important assets in carrying out our mission. Our immediate goal is to create a workplace where we can, individually and collectively, do our best work to improve the lives of consumers across this country."

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