Your View


Sherrod’s Banking Boys Club

A bombshell report released last week detailed widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), a top banking regulator led by Chairman Martin Gruenberg. The investigation seems to highlight a fraternity-like culture of aggression and toxicity and not the unbiased professionalism of a federal agency created to regulate our finance institutions.

The report found a “toxic” and “misogynistic” work culture where women and minorities faced “gender and race-based name calling” and “different accountability standards.”

The American workplace — let alone a government agency — has no room for this behavior. As a former CFO for a manufacturing company, I can definitively say this kind of conduct would lead to immediate termlnation in most any business envlronment.

That should be the case here, too. Mr. Gruenberg must resign, and Ohio’s Senator Sherrod Brown, who oversees the FDIC as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, can lead the way.

President Joe Biden, on his first day in office, made Americans a promise: “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise you I will fire you on the spot. On the spot. No ifs or buts.” The independent report on FDIC misconduct documented Gruenberg’s “reputation for bullying” and found the agency had a “misogynistic” culture that thrived under his leadership.

Certainly, these findings should meet the president’s criteria for dismissal.

Top brass in the administration have been let go for seemingly less. Eric Lander, the former head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and Biden’s top science adviser, resigned in 2022 following reports of misconduct that violated the president’s zero-tolerance policy.

Yet Democrats — who run the executive branch, appointed Gruenberg, and now have the power to fire him — have largely been silent. Senator Brown, instead of recognizing this behavior as abhorrent and immediately calling for Gruenberg’s resignation, issued a statement that was as equivocal as it was unsatisfying.

“The FDIC needs to be fixed. The women and men who work there deserve better,” said Brown. “Chair Gruenberg must accept responsibility and must immediately work to make fundamental changes to the agency and its culture.”

Senator Brown has the power to effect real change. His Senate committee oversees banks and their regulators. And he has been an advocate for positive and productive workplace cultures for women and minorities. But his rhetoric is a far cry from past statements he has made that “all workers deserve dignity in the workplace” or his calls for a “government on the side of workers.”

A government on the side of which workers? The report found employees have left encounters with Gruenberg feeling, “unsettled, disturbed, and demeaned.” Also, at the agency he leads, women have felt pressured to “participate in offensive jokes to avoid ‘being considered a prude,”’ or experienced “difficulty being promoted after having children.”

The reality is that Gruenberg is President Biden and Senator Brown’s guy, and they need him to advance their financial regulatory agenda before an election that might force them to relinquish power.

But Senator Brown has the opportunity to end this boys club and put people over politics. As the Biden White House puts it, “the Federal Government must be a model… where all employees are treated with dignity and respect.”

As a community leader and former CFO, I can think of no worse culture for an agency charged with maintaining “stability and public confidence in the nation’s financial system.” As an American, I can thinly of no better way for our leaders to demonstrate a commitment to workplace fairness than to ask Mr. Gruenberg to resign. Culture starts at the top, and Senator Brown should lead the charge.

Larry Holmes

Darke County Commissioner


No posts to display