WASHINGTON Aug 12 The new U.S. financial
consumer agency will improve managers' training and in-house
communications, its director said on Tuesday after an internal
report found employees were concerned about inexperienced
supervisors and confused about pay practices.
Richard Cordray, head of the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau (CFPB), said in an email to staff that he requested the
probe after allegations surfaced of unfair performance rating
practices and possible discrimination at the bureau.
The report by the CFPB's Office of Minority and Women
Inclusion found that staff believed their supervisors
micro-managed projects, were unclear about their priorities and
lacked uniform standards for employee performance.
CFPB employees said they did not understand the bureau's
hiring, promotion and pay practices, which contributed to the
impression those decisions were unfair, the report said.
And while the probe was not meant to investigate
discrimination, some employees reported unfair treatment based
on race and gender, and said bureau leaders appeared indifferent
about the problems, it said.
"These are not easy matters to ferret out and address,"
Stuart Ishimaru, head of the inclusion office, said on Tuesday
in an email to CFPB staff that was seen by Reuters.
"Issues around diversity, inclusion equality and fairness
will be ongoing challenges for the agency."
Allegations about unfair treatment have fueled criticism of
the new agency by Republican lawmakers, who already hoped to
scale back some of the CFPB's authority to oversee financial
products such as mortgages.
Lawmakers also requested probes of the bureau's diversity
and organizational culture by the U.S. Government Accountability
Office and the Federal Reserve's inspector general, which also
audits the CFPB.
The bureau, which was created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law,
announced in May that it was throwing out its performance system
after finding that older employees and racial minorities were
given lower scores and bonuses than other workers.
Some employees have since told lawmakers that they faced a
hostile environment because of their race or gender and suffered
retaliation when they tried to report problems.
In response, Cordray asked Ishimaru's group to conduct
"listening" sessions across the CFPB and report back on
The report said many of the problems likely stemmed from the
bureau's rapid organization and the pressure to churn out rules
and set up programs required by the Dodd-Frank law. That
fostered a culture of aggressiveness and an pace that could not
be sustained long-term.
Bureau leaders should provide sensitivity training for
managers and create a broader culture of respect, the report
said. Managers need to communicate more with employees,
recognize their achievements and better articulate priorities.
"The bureau does not have to achieve all of its objectives
in the short-term. It cannot afford to burn out its key asset,
people, and must take steps to develop and retain all of its
talent," the report said.
Cordray said the bureau has already begun making some
changes, such as hiring specialists to improve internal
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson. Editing by Andre Grenon)