On March 23, 2020, the FDIC’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) announced that it will request 2019 diversity self-assessments from FDIC-regulated financial institutions.  The FDIC regulates insured state banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System and insured state thrifts.  This year’s self-assessment application is presented on a new automated platform designed to increase efficiency and encourage more participation from the institutions.  The associated Financial Institution Letter (FIL), to be sent to such institutions identified as having 100 or more employees, sets forth in detail the process for completing the voluntary self-assessment.  This parallels similar actions from other regulatory agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which sent letters to regulated entities last year inviting them to submit a self-assessment of their diversity and inclusion (D&I) policies and practices.

FDIC-regulated financial institutions began voluntarily submitting diversity self-assessments to the FDIC’s OMWI for the 2016 reporting period, following the June 10, 2015 announcements of D&I standards set forth in the Interagency Policy Statement Establishing Joint Standards for Assessing the Diversity Policies and Practices of Regulated Entities.  The FDIC compiles and anonymously shares the submitted information with the stated purpose of encouraging institutions in the financial community to develop or enhance their D&I policies and help them achieve their strategic goals, including in the areas of their workforce recruitment, supplier diversity procurement, and training practices.

Realizing a goal set for 2020 in its 2018 Report and Analysis, and in an attempt to increase its participation beyond its most recent rate of about 17% of regulated entities, the FDIC has automated the Financial Institution Diversity-Self Assessment (FID-SA) application and created a portal to facilitate financial institutions’ electronic submissions.  The FID-SA is accessible through FDICconnect.  The new format allows multiple authorized users to complete the application, view previous submissions, attach supporting material, and print and save the application in pdf format.

The FIL also indicates that there are additional resources for users including, the FID-SA user guide, key facts sheet, and video tutorial, made available on the FID-SA Diversity Self Assessment Portal.  The FDIC hopes this streamlined process will not only improve the participation rates, but also result in more detailed data that will be meaningful for the whole financial services industry.  Covered institutions are strongly encouraged to use the new instrument and submit completed self-assessments by the extended submission date of May 31, 2020.  Note, the FDIC represents that it will to treat all information received as confidential commercial materials, but entities should be mindful that such information could remain subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

A financial institution should consult legal counsel in determining whether to undertake a self-assessment, publicly disclose information regarding an assessment, or submit an assessment to its regulator.  Ballard Spahr’s D&I counseling team advises financial institutions on the development, enhancement, and implementation of their D&I programs.  As attorneys, we offer a perspective that blends D&I consulting and development with a sensitivity to important legal issues—including regulatory compliance, the interplay of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action laws, reverse discrimination risks, and the role of D&I in potential discrimination litigation.  Our D&I team performs assessments, develops D&I strategic plans, advises on existing programs, develops policies and communications materials, conducts training, and assists with the implementation of D&I programs.