Seemingly defying an order from the president to stop certain types of diversity training, and getting in line with business groups outwardly opposing that dictum, the chairman of the federal credit regulator’s board said Monday he “reinforced” his commitment to financial inclusion by announcing a new program sponsored by his agency.
In a release, National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Board Chairman Rodney Hood said the agency was launching the “Advancing Communities through Credit, Education, Stability, and Support” (ACCESS) initiative.
“As Chairman, I have consistently characterized financial inclusion as the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” Hood said in a statement. “There is a clear business case for credit unions to enhance their outreach to underserved and underbanked populations. The NCUA will dedicate resources from across its lines of business to bring more Americans into the financial mainstream and provide them with greater access to safe and affordable financial services.”
Hood’s comments seem, at least on their face, to defy an executive order issued in late September by President Donald Trump banning the federal government, as well as its contractors, subcontractors and grantees, from offering certain diversity training on racial and gender biases. The order called the training on the subjects “divisive” and a “malign ideology.”
On Thursday, 150 business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – sent a letter to the White House saying Trump’s order has had a chilling effect on legitimate diversity and inclusion training and causes confusion among employers. “We urge you to withdraw the Executive Order and work with the business and nonprofit communities on an approach that would support appropriate workplace training programs,” the letter from the group stated.
In its release, the NCUA said the ACCESS program is designed to assemble leaders across the agency to “refresh and modernize regulations, policies, and programs in support of greater financial inclusion within the agency and the credit union system.” The release stated that the program will build on earlier successes in financial inclusion by the NCUA and address the financial services and financial literacy needs of underserved and diverse communities across the U.S, as well as expand opportunities for employment.
“Government agencies can make a vital contribution in terms of coordinating efforts, helping to set appropriate standards, and directing resources where they can make a real difference,” Hood said. “That’s certainly what we’ve been doing and will continue to do at the NCUA.”