Tomorrow at Noon, ET, three of my colleagues at Ballard Spahr will be presenting a webinar entitled: “How the U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision in College Admissions Could Impact Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Programs in Financial Institutions.” Register here.
The invite for the program, in relevant part, described the program as follows:
In the weeks since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, the discussion quickly expanded beyond higher education to corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs. Questions about the impact of that decision beyond institutions of higher education have become a hotly debated topic. Specific to the financial industry is the fundamental question of how to square Section 342 of Dodd-Frank, which urges financial institutions to adopt DEI standards and to submit annual DEI reports to regulators in order to increase the representation of women and people of color in the financial industry, with the Court’s majority and concurring opinions and political leaders seeking to use that decision outside of the admissions context.
Section 342 was included in Dodd-Frank to promote diversity and inclusion in the financial services industry. It covers the 12 regional Federal Reserve Banks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (FBG), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Department of the Treasury Department Offices (collectively, the Agencies), as well as all entities that contract with or are regulated by an Agency.
Under Section 342, each Agency must create an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI) that will “be responsible for all [A]gency matters relating to diversity in management, employment and business activities.” Likewise, regulated entities must “promote transparency and awareness of diversity policies and practices” in their own business operations. As a consequence, each Agency is directed to establish standards for “assessing the diversity policies and practices of entities” that the Agency regulates. Although participation in this program by regulated entities is voluntary, many regulated entities participate by submitting data regarding their diversity and inclusion track records.
My colleagues participating in our webinar tomorrow recently researched whether any of the agencies with OMWIs has issued a public statement in the aftermath of the Supreme Court opinion. They could not locate anything at all. Radio silence! The financial services industry is clamoring for information about what impact, if any, the Supreme Court opinion has on Section 342 of Dodd-Frank, the OMWIs and whether regulated entities who are voluntarily collecting data about their diversity and inclusion experience and providing that data to the agencies should eliminate or change their data collection and dissemination practices.
Although the agencies have not been helpful so far in providing guidance to regulated entities, my colleagues will share their thoughts on what regulated entities should be doing at tomorrow’s webinar. They have a wealth of experience in helping financial institutions establish DEI programs. You will not want to miss this webinar.