As Prepared for Delivery on April 21, 2022
Thank you, Miguel, for today’s presentation.
For me, these discussions are more than simply abstracts — they are personal to me. In my banking career, I’ve attended conferences and professional events where I was the only man of color in the room. I’ve arrived early to speak at a panel discussion, and people were surprised to learn that I was a participant. I vividly remember the conversations with my father about how to engage with police when pulled over and my mother performing safety checks on my car before I went out on the weekends to ensure the signal and brake lights were all functioning properly. In 2022, I find myself having similar conversations with my young African American cousins.
Individually and collectively, we can make a difference — one conversation and relationship at a time.
At the NCUA, we are striving for ways to lead on these issues. One of the top priorities for my Board tenure is financial inclusion, which means expanded access to the financial mainstream for underserved communities as well as diverse hiring, contracting, and board membership. I also joined with Chairman Harper several years ago in calling for the NCUA Culture, Diversity, and Inclusion Council to focus on issues of inclusion within the agency. True inclusion within our financial regulators, financial institutions, and communities is a goal we all must strive towards. Diversity is important, but without cultural change that encourages true inclusion, it risks being little more than checking the right boxes.
In my public remarks given around the country, I have talked to thousands of credit union leaders, employees, regulators, and members about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Everywhere I go, I describe financial inclusion as the civil rights issue of our time, and I am both heartened and reassured that this message is being so well received.
For the NCUA to effectively carry out its mission, every staff member should be respected, and diversity and inclusion should be truly fostered. All of NCUA’s employees should come to work knowing that all of us, directly or indirectly, can improve the lives of hard-working credit union members in ways both big and small. I know this is a mission that makes me excited to come to work every day because we are responsible for protecting the safety and soundness of America’s credit union system.
Chairman Harper said in his recent DEI report to Congress, “At their core, diversity, equity, and inclusion are far more than policies and principles. Of course, intentions are meaningless without concrete actions and behaviors”. And to that end, Mr. Chairman, I would like to publicly say we are in complete and lockstep agreement. I also would like to thank you for continuing to fight for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the NCUA. In fact, it is worth pointing out that last year, two out of every five new hires were people of color.
Miguel, I do have some questions:
- On slide 12, can you reiterate how our supplier diversity spend compares to our peer regulators?
- Can you walk us through a case study for how your office has helped an individual credit union?
- When an MDI credit union has to merge, do we give preference to another MDI institution?
- For the record, do MDI credit unions have any regulatory benefits given to them, similar to a low income designed credit union benefits?
- Has the NCUA Board ever considered giving any regulatory benefits, such as unlimited non-member deposits?
- Does the NCUA Board have authority in statute to give special benefits to MDIs?
- Many credit unions are hesitant to submit data to OWMI because they are concerned this will be used against them during an exam. What would you say to someone who raises this objection to submitting these data?
- What is the NCUA doing to increase MDIs in Alaska and Hawaii where native Alaskans and Hawaiians are a part of the field of membership?