Agencies and Institutions Gather to Discuss Improving Diversity

There are several reasons for having a diverse and inclusive financial services sector. It makes sense to have board members, mangers, senior leaders, and employees reflect the community a financial institution serves. Diversity leads to better service, greater innovation, improved solutions and a larger customer or membership base. Yet, there continues to be a number of challenges facing financial institutions when it comes to improving their levels of diversity and inclusion.

To address these challenges, the NCUA’s Office of Minority Women and Inclusion along with the OMWI offices of seven other financial regulatory agencies held the first ever Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Thursday, Sept.13, 2018, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. During this half-day summit, directors, staff and representatives from regulated entities gathered to share best practices and discuss challenges involving diversity and inclusion in the financial services sector.

Keynote speaker, Gail Greenfield, from Mercer reviewed the findings of her company’s report, “Bridging the Diversity Gap for the Financial Services Industry – Building African American and Latino Talent Pipelines for the Financial Services Industry in Chicago.” The summit also featured speakers from various segments of the financial services industry who discussed promising practices they use in their organizations to advance diversity in their senior leadership ranks, promote inclusion in their workforces, and increase opportunities for diverse suppliers to serve as business partners to advance their organizations’ missions.

There was also a panel discussion with industry diversity leaders that included Adrienne Collier, Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager of ESL Federal Credit Union. The credit union recently created this new position that’s responsible for developing and implementing strategies that attract, retain and promote a talented and diverse workforce within the credit union. During her remarks, Collier shared what led ESL to create this position and her vision for her new role. She and other panelists discussed some of the challenges they face as diversity and inclusion practitioners within the financial services sector and shared strategies for overcoming some of these challenges.

There was also a panel discussion of OMWI Directors who shared the results from the annual diversity self-assessments performed by the entities each agency regulates. These voluntary diversity self-assessments of financial institutions were implemented as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

“One of the biggest challenges we see with credit unions and other financial institutions, as it relates to diversity and inclusion, is figuring out where to start,” said Monica Davy, Director of the NCUA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. “I highly recommend using the annual voluntary self-assessment as a tool to determine where you are, and as a source of best practices to help guide your credit union in creating or strengthening your diversity and inclusion efforts.”

During the summit, Davy shared the results of the 2017 self-assessment for credit unions and introduced the Credit Union Guide to Supplier Diversity, guidance the NCUA recently developed to assist credit unions with their supplier diversity efforts.

“There is value in having a pool of diverse suppliers available to meet your business needs,” Davy said. “Diverse suppliers can help a credit union tap into diverse talent, and find new and different perspectives and solutions to business challenges. Additionally, diverse suppliers can also drive competitive pricing, which is a win for any credit union that has to make the most of its available resources.”

5 Facts about the Credit Union Diversity Self-Assessment. It's a tool for building diversity and inclusion. It's voluntary. It's simple and brief. It has no effect on CAMEL ratings. It's due by December 31.The NCUA’s annual Voluntary Credit Union Diversity Self-Assessment form lists several best practices credit unions can use to develop new or enhance their existing diversity initiatives. The recently updated self-assessment form and instructions, along with several diversity-related tools and resources, are available on the NCUA’s Credit Union Diversity web page.

During the event, all OMWI Directors encouraged participants to perform the annual voluntary self-assessment and to submit it to their respective regulatory agencies to advance the adoption of diversity and inclusion practices in the financial services marketplace further. The summit’s organizers also agreed to hold additional summits around the country to facilitate continued sharing of information and to promote diversity and inclusion best practices.

“The summit was a huge success,” Davy said. “This gathering of OMWI Directors, members of their staffs and representatives from a variety of regulated financial institutions was a clear example of diversity and inclusion in action. I believe participants came away with new ideas and strategies because of the diversity at the summit. Diversity and inclusion works.”