Quietly tucked away in the Financial Reform Bill signed into law last year was a little known provision requiring federal financial services agencies to establish Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion.
Section 324 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act mandates the establishment of at least 20 Offices of Minority and Women Inclusion in financial service agencies across the country. The offices will work to ensure diversity in management, employment, procurement and business activities.
The OMWI directors will have to create standards and designate procedures guiding their agencies about practices toward minorities, women, and minority-owned and women-owned businesses. They will have jurisdiction over all business and activities at all levels, particularly with regard to procurement, insurance, and contracting.
When arguing for the section’s inclusion in the financial reform bill back in 2009, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) said, “[t]hese offices are needed simply because minorities, women, and minority- and women-owned businesses continue to face challenges in accessing employment opportunities within these agencies and participating in the contracting opportunities provided by these agencies.”
When set up, the OMWI offices will also required reporting annually to Congress on procurement activities, recruiting and hiring practices as they relate to minorities and women, and on contracting with qualified minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
Financial institutions, investment banking firms, mortgage banking firms, asset management firms, brokers, dealers, financial services entities, underwriters, accountants, investment consultants and providers of legal services will all be subject to the law.
Representative Waters said during a CBC Budget Commission event last week that there have already been talks among some Republican members and in the media about attacking the new OMWI offices.
The Heritage Foundation and several conservative and constitutional law watchdog groups have said the offices will promote reverse discrimination and will encourage unqualified and unearned benefits to go to minorities and minority-owned firms. The Heritage Foundation wrote a letter to Senate and House leaders urging the section be stripped from the reform bill before it passed.