WASHINGTON, July 30 The head of the U.S.
consumer watchdog told lawmakers on Wednesday that new managers
at the agency initially did not get enough training about
creating a fair workplace for women and minority employees, an
"oversight" he said the bureau is now addressing.
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in May said it
was throwing out its system of rating employees' performance
after revelations that employees over the age of 40, racial
minorities and other groups received lower rankings and lower
bonuses than did their colleagues.
Some employees of the bureau, which opened in 2011, have
since told the House of Representatives Financial Services
Committee that they experienced hostile work environments and
faced retaliation when they reported problems.
Bureau Director Richard Cordray said the problems likely
stemmed from the bureau's unsettled culture as managers
scrambled to hire employees and write rules required by the 2010
Dodd-Frank law. He said managers now receive "considerably more"
training about workplace issues.
"What I've come to see frankly is I don't think we did
enough of that in the beginning," Cordray told the financial
services panel's oversight subcommittee.
"It was frankly probably an oversight of the bureau and just
kind of reflective of the start-up phase, perhaps, but it hurt
us, I think, a great deal in various respects," he said.
Dodd-Frank created the bureau and charged it with overseeing
consumer financial products such as mortgages and credit cards
after the 2007-2009 crisis.
The watchdog has faced opposition since it opened in 2011.
Congressional Republicans sought, without success, to curtail
its broad authority over consumer financial products and replace
its director with a bipartisan board.
Cordray said in May that an internal analysis had found that
black and Hispanic employees received lower performance ratings
in 2012 and 2013 than their white colleagues did.
Employees who worked in field offices instead of the
Washington headquarters or who had less than a year of
experience also received lower scores on average.
The bureau said it would re-do its performance management
system and compensate employees who received lower ratings as if
they had received top marks.
Cordray also ordered the bureau's Office of Minority and
Women Inclusion to report directly to him and assigned its
director, Stuart Ishimaru, to gather information from employees
about the bureau's culture.
Representative Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican
who chairs the oversight subcommittee, said that was not
sufficient and that bad managers should be fired.
"I'm not interested in hearing about bureaucratic ways the
bureau is papering over the real problem. We need action. We
need results," McHenry said.
McHenry also said he and fellow Republicans Jeb Hensarling,
who leads the Financial Services Committee, and Shelley Moore
Capito had asked the Government Accountability Office to study
the organizational culture and personnel management at the CFPB.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)