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Prepared Remarks by Richard Cordray on the CFPB’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion

Prepared Remarks by Richard Cordray
Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Office of Minority and Women Inclusion
Washington, DC
April 30, 2012

Thank you all for coming. Today, I am happy to announce that Stuart Ishimaru will join the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to lead our Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act directed federal regulators to set up Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion. At the Consumer Bureau, we take this mandate very seriously. We understand how important it is to include women and people of color in our work. And so we have asked Stuart, one of the best in the field, to join our team.

Americans from all walks of life use consumer financial products and services. Mortgages. Student loans. Credit Cards. These kinds of products touch many millions of lives – from rural America to urban America, from East coast to West coast. They cross racial and socio-economic boundaries. Because so many Americans of different backgrounds use these products – and because some groups can be disproportionately impacted when things go wrong – it is integral to our mission to do our best to reflect the broad diversity of the American consumer.

At the CFPB, we will promote diversity through our work. And we will see how much diversity there is in the institutions we oversee.

Stuart’s extensive work in promoting diversity makes him the perfect person for the job. He has worked on behalf of underserved communities. He has a commitment to transparency. And, he has a strong understanding of both the federal hiring and contracting processes. In fact, Stuart brings with him decades of experience in overseeing policies in the federal government geared toward fostering diversity in the workplace and geared toward creating opportunities for women and minorities in accessing contracts.

Stuart joins us from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Before that he held a senior position in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. And before that he served as the acting staff director for the Commission on Civil Rights.

Most recently, as a commissioner at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Stuart has been leading the enforcement of federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or employee based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and genetic information. President George W. Bush nominated Stuart, on the recommendation of Sen. Tom Daschle, to be one of the five Commission members in 2003. President Barack Obama then named Stuart Acting Chairman of the Commission in January 2009, and Stuart served in this role until April 2010. As Acting Chairman, Stuart directed the agency with 2,300 employees and a budget of $367 million. We look forward to the leadership he brings to the Consumer Bureau.

In January, the Consumer Bureau began standing up the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. We are aiming to build a model office, one that not only our fellow regulators but all those in all financial service businesses may look to for best practices.

Among other roles, our Office will develop standards for equal employment opportunity and the racial, ethnic, and gender diversity of the workforce and senior management of the agency. It will also strive to increase participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the Bureau’s programs and contracts.

Dodd-Frank further directs that the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion will work to assess diversity at the financial institutions that the Consumer Bureau regulates. And so we will collaborate with our sister federal agencies to do this in the most streamlined way possible. We will develop standards for assessing diversity policies and practices of our regulated entities. This is a big job – working with banks and nonbanks to develop systems that make sense.

Presented before us is a tremendous opportunity for the Bureau to encourage diversity throughout a financial services industry that has not traditionally reflected all of its customers. It would be good to have a more diverse financial services industry, and we want to help industry get there.

We believe diversity, as a general principle, is good for all businesses and the customers they serve. It fosters greater understanding, better customer service, and, often, better business opportunities.

As John Hume once noted, “Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it.”

At the Consumer Bureau, we deeply believe in equal opportunity and fairness. We believe diversity strengthens an organization. We believe in these principles when it comes to the consumer financial products market. And we believe in these principles when it comes to our own operations. Bringing Stuart on board is a reinforcement of these beliefs. Thank you.