In testimony before a House Financial Services subcommittee today, American Bankers Association SVP Naomi Mercer highlighted the strides banks have made toward building a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce and discussed some of the challenges they face in this area.
“Our member banks run the gamut of diversity, equity and inclusion,” Mercer said. “Many have robust DEI programs and have implemented leading practices such as employee resource groups, leadership and formal mentoring programs to advance women, people of color and other represented groups, and supplier diversity programs.”
Mercer also noted that many banks face challenges with recruiting qualified individuals to fill senior leadership positions. Other smaller firms face the challenge of being located in geographic areas with less racial and ethnic diversity, she said, emphasizing the importance of recognizing other aspects of diversity, such as gender, individuals living with disabilities, LGBTQ+, religious affiliation, veteran status or socio-economic class. “These aspects of identity and background add to the diversity of thought that banks need and want to develop.”
Mercer acknowledged that more progress can be made to increase the overall diversity of the financial sector—a key finding of a report released by the Financial Services Committee earlier this week. The report found that workforce diversity demographics among the largest banks mostly aligned with the composition of the broader U.S. labor force, but that diversity was more visible at the entry level than in senior level positions.