U.S. consumer agency to focus on workplace diversity, fairness

Agency facing backlash as report shows Caucasian workers more likely to receive top ratings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said on Friday it is increasing efforts within the agency to create a more diverse and fair work environment following concerns about discrimination.

The CFPB came under fire earlier this month over reports that showed the agency's white employees were twice as likely to receive a top performance rating in 2013 than African-American or Hispanic employees.

"We must focus more carefully on how we address diversity and inclusion not only in hiring and contracting, but in our day-to-day treatment of one another," CFPB Director Richard Cordray wrote to the staff in an emailed statement that was viewed by Reuters.

The CFPB oversees mortgages, credit cards and other consumer-oriented financial products.

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are demanding more information from the agency about its internal management practices, specifically how employees are treated and rated, to ensure a culture of workplace discrimination does not exist.

The Republican lawmakers previously expressed concerns about a number of formal discrimination claims that were filed by CFPB employees on the basis of factors that can include race, age and religion.

About 47 per cent of the agency's staffers were women, and 34 per cent identified themselves as minorities, according to an agency report to Congress last year.

The agency's staff was more diverse than other federal regulators, where women accounted for 44 per cent and minorities accounted for 29 per cent of staff, the report showed.

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