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FDIC Chair to Resign Following Report on Workplace Harassment

FDIC Chair to Resign Following Report on Workplace Harassment

May 20, 2024

FDIC Chair to Resign Following Report on Workplace Harassment

Martin Gruenberg, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), announced his intention to resign from his position following a successor's confirmation amid a wave of criticism concerning the workplace culture at the agency. The decision comes in the wake of a report by law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, which highlighted allegations of harassment and discrimination within the FDIC. The report was commissioned after a Wall Street Journal article depicted a "sexualized, boys’ club environment" within the agency, specifically targeting the experience of female bank examiners.

Gruenberg, 71, has been under increased scrutiny since the release of the report on May 7. Based on testimony from over 500 individuals and an extensive investigation, the report did not find Gruenberg personally involved in harassment or discrimination. Nonetheless, it included instances of Gruenberg's temper with staff and raised questions about his capacity to enact necessary cultural changes.

"In light of recent events, I am prepared to step down from my responsibilities once a successor is confirmed," Gruenberg said in a statement responding to the situation.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, diverged from his party's leadership, stating that new FDIC leadership is essential for "fundamental changes." Consequently, political pressure on Gruenberg rose, culminating in public calls from key figures for his replacement.

House Majority Whip Thomas Emmer, a Republican, expressed on Bloomberg Television that there are "other capable people" who could lead the FDIC more effectively than Gruenberg.

The departure of Gruenberg holds significant implications for the Biden administration's regulatory agenda and the banking industry. Without a confirmed successor, the FDIC board would be evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. Travis Hill, the Republican FDIC vice chairman, would temporarily assume leadership in this scenario.

Gruenberg has a long history with the FDIC, serving as a board member since 2005 and experiencing multiple stints as chairman. Before his tenure at the regulator, he worked as a Senate staffer for nearly twenty years.

Although some Democrats have argued that past FDIC leaders also bear responsibility for the agency's issues, the pressure on Gruenberg intensified, with notable figures like Sheila Bair, former FDIC chair, suggesting that Gruenberg should signal his willingness to resign.

"This controversy is hurting him and the agency," Bair commented, indicating a growing consensus that Gruenberg's departure may be necessary to move forward.

As of now, it is uncertain how swiftly the White House will nominate a new FDIC chair and whether the Senate will expedite the confirmation process amid an election year.

Bloomberg Article


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