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Consumer bureau appointee to promote financial industry diversity

WASHINGTON -- The new consumer watchdog agency on Monday appointed an outgoing member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to lead a new office to promote diversity at the agency and in the financial services industry.

Stuart Ishimaru, who served as acting EEOC chairman from 2009-2010, will lead the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency and other federal banking regulators were required to create such offices as part of the 2010 financial reform law.

The offices will work together to develop standards for assessing the diversity policies in the financial services industry, said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. The offices do not have the authority to write regulations imposing hiring practices on banks and other financial services companies.

Industry executives and some Republicans have been concerned that the offices still could add to business costs. But Cordray said the consumer bureau would be careful as it moves forward.

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“We need an accurate baseline to assess where we are and where we need to go,” Ishimaru told reporters. He said the agencies would “find a way to collect data without imposing an undue regulatory burden.”

The Office of Minority and Women Inclusion will try to highlight best practices in the industry, which can help promote more diversity, Ishimaru said.

“It isn’t forcing people to do it, but it lets them know how to do it,” Ishimaru said.

The office also will promote diversity at the agency and in its contracting practices.

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Ishimaru, a native of San Jose, has been a member of the EEOC since 2003. His term was set to expire on July 1, and he recently announced he would step down at the end of April.

Before joining the EEOC, he was a civil rights official at the Justice Department from 1994-2001.

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