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Have 5 Minutes? Use it to Influence Federal Diversity Policy

Stakeholders like us have until December 24, 2013 to provide feedback and recommendations on how to make diversity regulations more effective.

Attention diversity nerds, Christmas came early this year! After three years of anticipation, six of the Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion finally released some proposed standards addressing how they're going to assess diversity policies of the banks and other financial businesses their agencies oversee in the private sector. This is a big deal, and we have an opportunity to make a big impact.


The Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWIs) were created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act to address and improve workforce and supplier diversity in the financial sector. (I've blogged before about the importance and impact of workforce diversity and supplier diversity programs. But for a more in depth explanation of what the OMWIs actually do, I encourage you to check out our Huffington Post op-ed from last May). Supporters of these offices, including Greenlining, will be quick to tell you that the policy that created them isn't the strongest and leaves the OMWIs without enforcement power. Nevertheless, we've been chomping at the bit to see how they will use their position within the regulatory agencies to influence the disappointing diversity levels in finance.

On October 25, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed joint standards. Together, these standards are expected to affect nearly 68,000 financial institutions in the private sectorfrom big name banks, to community credit unions, to investment firms. That's millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in contracting opportunities. People of color are already the majority in California, Hawaii, Texas, New Mexico, and Washington, D.C., and are projected to be the nation's new majority by 2042. It's imperative that this regulation is done right and benefits the nation's soon-to-be new majority.

As currently proposed, the regulations are unfortunately very weak. Our press release explained that the standards contain a lot of positive language, but are more of a list of recommendations and best practices than actual regulations. In addition to being short on specifics, they also allow financial institutions to do a self-assessment of their performance and decide if they will even share that assessment with the OMWIs. I can tell you from firsthand experience that the vast majority of companies choose not to share information on their diversity performance unless ordered to.

But it's not all bad news! These rules aren't final just yet. Stakeholders like us have until December 24, 2013 to provide feedback and recommendations on how to make this more effective. This isn't just some petition you signed in high school to extend lunch time. Regulators take these comments very seriously. And if enough of us call for more specific guidelines and transparency, the OMWIs will have the public backing to be more assertive in their regulations and effect real change.

Led by Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), members of the Congressional Black Caucus fought tooth n' nail to create the OMWIs in one of the most hostile, divided Congresses in recent history. Now it's our time to step up and to do our part to ensure that we have a financial sector that works for all.

Check out the proposed guidelines and find instructions on how to submit your comments here. For any questions or feedback on the OMWIs or how to write comments, please don't hesitate to email me at danielleb[at]greenlining[dot]org or give me a call at 510-926-4024.

Want to provide feedback to the Offices of Minority and Womens Inclusion? Click here to say you'll do it.

Image via Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com

Articles
via Collection of the New-York Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

Fredrick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. At the age of 10 he was given to the Auld family.

As a child, he worked as a house slave and was able to learn to read and write, and he attempted to teach his fellow slaves the same skills.

At the age of 15, he was given to Thomas Auld, a cruel man who beat and starved his slaves and thwarted any opportunity for them to practice their faith or to learn to read or write.

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via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

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via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

Lifestyle

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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