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Accountability and reform: Tackling sexual harassment at the FDIC

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), historically known for its role in maintaining public confidence in the nation’s financial system, has recently faced scrutiny over allegations of a toxic workplace culture. A recently released comprehensive independent report has brought to light systemic issues of sexual harassment, discrimination, and misconduct within the agency.

What were the findings?

Despite the FDIC’s critical role in the financial sector, the report characterizes the workplace environment as a “good ol’ boys club,” where inappropriate behavior has gone unaddressed. The issue of sexual harassment within the agency was brought to light after publication of a Wall Street Journal article in 2023 which discussed the toxic atmosphere within the FDIC. Victims, many of whom are women and individuals from underrepresented groups, shared experiences ranging from stalking to receiving unsolicited explicit images, which raises serious concerns about employee safety and well-being.

The article triggered an investigation into the agency, which recently released a report with recommendations to improve the workplace within the FDIC. Linda Miller, a member of the special committee overseeing the investigation, expressed concerns that the report’s recommendations fall short, particularly in addressing the agency’s risk-averse culture that led to a lack of accountability. Instead, she has called on leadership to hold people accountable using suspensions and removal.

How will the agency respond to the report?

Current FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg acknowledged the findings and outlined an action plan to rectify the issues, including establishing a hotline and prohibiting bonuses for those found guilty of harassment. However, key lawmakers challenge his capacity to effectively lead the FDIC through this necessary cultural transformation.

What does this mean for those who experience harassment within the FDIC or other federal agency?

For federal employees, the FDIC’s situation serves as a reminder of the importance of being aware of one’s rights and the mechanisms in place to report and address sexual harassment. Agencies are legally mandated to foster a safe environment, and employees should feel secure in reporting misconduct without fear of retaliation.


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