Agencies Finalize Joint Diversity Assessment Standards

Six financial regulators today issued a set of final guidelines for the firms they oversee to assess their diversity policies and practices. As required by the Dodd-Frank Act, the agencies’ policy statement includes standards that relate to firms’ commitment to diversity, the makeup of their workforces, employment and procurement practices and transparency about diversity.

ABA, joined by the state associations and other trade groups, sought to ensure that the standards adhered the limits on them in Dodd-Frank while noting that they reflected the financial industry’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. The groups also supported the mechanism of a voluntary self-assessment, which the agencies strengthened in the final statement by adding language that the standards do “not create new legal obligations. Use of the Standards by a regulated entity is voluntary.” ABA also agreed with the agencies that the standards should not become part of the exam process.

While they maintained flexibility in the final standards, the agencies declined to fix problems ABA and the state associations identified in the proposed standards — particularly those related to supplier and contractor diversity and disclosure of results. The agencies did provide that each institution should determine how to disclose information about its practices and added language clarifying that “[e]ntities submitting information may designate such information as confidential commercial information as appropriate, and the Agencies will follow the Freedom of Information Act in the event of requests for particular submissions.”

ABA released a members-only staff analysis providing more information on the standards. The policy statement takes effect upon publication in the Federal Register. Comments on burdens imposed bythe final standards will be accepted through Aug. 9. For more information, contact ABA’s Rob Rowe.