While the NCUA’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion was created to ensure diversity in management, employment and business activities, the two-year old division has much more room to have an impact.
That’s according to the African American Credit Union Coalition, which just released six recommendations for the NCUA to consider. Among them, providing a further breakdown analysis of minority and women-owned business contractors and suppliers with regard to the percentage of minority-owned businesses versus women-owned businesses.
The AACUC also suggested engaging trade organizations to promote diversity as a credit union best practice via conference sessions and include in roundtables meetings a more comprehensive representation of credit union trade and advocacy groups.
The coalition also recommended establishing an SEC counterpart rule requiring credit unions to report on call reports their diversity policies and the methods used to diversify workforces, including boards and senior management.
Through its OMWI, the NCUA should also consider encouraging the proactive recruitment of qualified minorities and women with respect to the strategic needs and goals of the agency and credit unions, the AACUC said. This can be accomplished by utilizing the talent banks or biographical databases of credit union advocacy groups such as the AACUC or NLCUP for workforce placement referrals.
Finally, the AACUC suggested increasing transparency of procurement process for goods and services contracted for and by the NCUA in areas such as asset management, for instance.
In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Act established a mandate that required the NCUA and other agencies to create OMWIs.
“The AACUC commends and supports the NCUA’s OMWI in its efforts to comply with the Dodd-Frank Act mandates. However, the agency must go further. The AACUC recognizes and advocates for diversity as a means to foster new approaches and fresh perspectives toward achieving credit union perpetuity for generations to come,” the AACUC wrote in a position paper, “Dodd-Frank, Diversity and the Credit Union Movement.”
In January 2011, the NCUA opened its OMWI in compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act and submitted to Congress its first report as required by the law.
In its report released in April 2012, the NCUA said it needed to do more with its efforts to hire more minorities. Among the findings, of the $37.9 million paid to contractors in 2011, $3.1 million or 8.1% of those contracts were paid to minority and women-owned businesses.
The NCUA also awarded $49.6 million in supplier contracts of which $6.8 million or 13.75% were awarded to minority or women-owned businesses. Four businesses were involved in the $28.3 billion corporate credit union system sale of securities.
The NCUA said it implemented two-day training in supplier diversity for agency employees involved in the procurement process.
However, the agency did identify as a most significant challenge, the hiring of qualified minorities and women, more specifically pertaining to the employment of Hispanics at all levels and other minorities at CU-12 and above grade levels. The NCUA also instituted call report utilization to determine if credit unions have a diversity policy or program in effect.
“The AACUC’s mission is to strengthen the movement through mentorship and leadership,” said Sheilah Montgomery, AACUC chairwoman. “Dodd-Frank’s diversity provision is in line with our position. We’re looking to be kind of a referral. We want to be a resource for fresh ideas.”
To further make its case, the AACUC pointed to the SEC saying the agency has taken affirmative steps in implementing its assessment of the diversity policies and practices of publicly traded companies and their boards. For instance, the SEC approved a rule that would require disclosure of whether, and if so how, a nominating committee considers diversity in identifying candidates for director.
The SEC also requires companies to disclose if the nominating committee or the board has a policy with regard to the consideration of diversity in identifying nominees, how this policy is implemented and how the nominating committee or the board assesses the effectiveness of its policy. In addition, the rule also requires the disclosure of this data to be reported on corporate proxy and informational statements.
Mark Brantley, AACUC advocacy chairman, said in gathering research for the coalition’s position, he discovered that the SEC had adopted a rule requiring companies to report diversity initiatives on their proxy statements.
“Just in my own experience, there’s not a lot of diversity. We want to strengthen the credit union movement and that’s the reason we embarked on this provision from the Dodd-Frank Act,” Brantley said.
To that end, the AACUC was scheduled to meet with CUNA President/CEO Dick Cheney and NAFCU President Fred Becker at the coalition’s networking meeting held during CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference last week in Washington, Montgomery said. In addition, the AACUC is hoping to have a conversation soon with Tawana James, the director of NCUA’s OMWI, she added.
Brantley said while the intent behind diversity is to have more inclusion of minorities and women, he acknowledged that there are some credit unions may consider this a challenge because of their limited access to certain groups based on where a credit union is located.
In those instances, more diversity on boards and through skill and expertise are viable alternatives, he suggested.
“I truly believe that there is a conservation to be had but we haven’t sat down to have it,” Montgomery said. “This position will start the conversation. We have so many things that we align with. Through this conversation, I believe we’re going to create something great for the industry.”