Can there truly be diversity on Wall Street? If Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) had her way, the answer would be, yes. Despite her recent ethics troubles, Rep. Waters had been working to push a Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Bill that would benefit women and minorities. Under her passed proposal, each of the 30 federal financial agencies and departments will now be required to establish an office to boost hiring of and contracting opportunities for minorities and women. Critics say it will be burdensome and unnecessary. The new law will require each federal financial agency and department, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and all 12 Federal Reserve banks, to establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.
The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection legislation passed by the House includes a number of provisions introduced by Waters to increase access and opportunities for minorities and women. This will include the “Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.” According to the bill, women- and minority-owned firms who were largely overlooked for the contracting opportunities made available by the government’s historic intervention at banks and other financial institutions will now be included. An amendment, authored by Waters and adopted by the House-Senate conference, was added to create Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the federal regulatory agencies – including the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve and the Federal Depository Insurance Company, among others – in order to ensure the racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the work force and senior management. The offices would also increase the participation of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the programs and contracts of each agency.
“The creation of Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the federal government’s financial services agencies will institutionalize opportunities for minorities and women,” explained Congresswoman Waters. According to Waters, she noticed that despite government efforts to increase contracts, minorities and women were left largely out of the mix. “The economic recovery programs, including the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the Term-Asset Backed Securities Lending Facility (TALF), and the Public-Private Investment Partnerships Program (PPIP), were all designed to inject capital into the economy and prevent another collapse,” said Waters. “Unfortunately, it soon became clear to me that these programs were actually benefiting the same large, too-big-to-fail companies that were responsible for the economic crisis. These programs had a noticeable lack of inclusion of minorities and women. Diversity within these programs isn’t necessary just to ensure that everyone gets a bite at the apple; it’s necessary to make sure that we aren’t entrusting our economic recovery to just a handful of companies. The Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion will increase diversity in employment and contracting.”