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CFPB staff evaluations show racial disparities, American Banker reports

Posted in CFPB General

Given the CFPB’s fair lending focus, there is certainly a strong dose of irony in the American Banker’s report yesterday that CFPB staff evaluations show a pattern of racial disparities.  The article states that, according to confidential agency data obtained by the American Banker, “CFPB managers show a pattern of ranking white employees distinctly better than minorities in performance reviews used to grant raises and issue bonuses.”  The data is reported to have shown that “[o]verall, whites were twice as likely in 2013 to receive the agency’s top grade than were African-American or Hispanic employees.” 

The article acknowledges that the statistics themselves do not prove intentional discrimination by CFPB managers.  However, it observes that the statistics “do indicate that racial disparities can be just as easily identified within the CFPB’s ranks as among the lenders the bureau regulates.”  It quotes a current CFPB employee who, speaking on a condition of anonymity, commented that the “level of hypocrisy” at the CFPB was “shocking,” and observed that if the CFPB was a lender with similar statistics, “it would be written up, immediately referred to the Justice Department, sued and publicly shamed.” 

According to the article, interviews conducted by the American Banker with current and former staffers revealed other serious personnel problems.  Those problems included widespread low morale among  CFPB employees and rapid employee turnover.  The article suggests that the current high turnover rate is the result of dissatisfaction with how employees are treated.  (Earlier this year, the Washington Post reported that the CFPB lost many of its most talented initial hires because of instability resulting from conflicts over the CFPB’s mission, the battle over Richard Cordray’s confirmation, and frustration with the CFPB’s decision-making process. )