Top US banking regulator offers resignation after toxic workplace report

Top US banking regulator offers resignation after toxic workplace report

Martin Gruenberg offered to resign after bipartisan calls for his resignation
Martin Gruenberg offered to resign after bipartisan calls for his resignation. Photo: ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP/File
Source: AFP

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A top US banking regulator offered his resignation Monday after an independent report found evidence of widespread sexual misconduct and a "patriarchal" culture at the agency he leads.

"In light of recent events, I am prepared to step down from my responsibilities once a successor is confirmed," Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) chairman Martin Gruenberg said in a statement.

"Until that time, I will continue to fulfil my responsibilities as Chairman of the FDIC, including the transformation of the FDIC's workplace culture," he added.

Gruenberg has led the FDIC on and off since 2005, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, and was recently reappointed to the regulator's top job by President Joe Biden.

His resignation letter came after the top Democratic member of the Senate Banking Committee joined his Republican colleagues on Monday in calling for his departure, following the publication of an FDIC-commissioned report to look into workplace misconduct allegations made in a series of articles by the Wall Street Journal.

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"There must be fundamental changes at the FDIC," Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said in a statement. "Those changes begin with new leadership, who must fix the agency's toxic culture and put the women and men who work there -- and their mission -- first."

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The report, which was published earlier this month, found the FDIC had "failed to provide a workplace safe from sexual harassment, discrimination and other interpersonal misconduct," and that a "patriarchal, insular and risk-averse culture" existed at the agency.

It said that a "widespread fear of retaliation" had led to underreporting of misconduct, and that the response from management had been "insufficient and ineffective."

The report also looked into reports that Gruenberg had a reputation within the FDIC for having a temper, and found some employees experienced "deeply unsettling exchanges during which he was extremely 'harsh,' 'aggressive,' and 'upset.'"

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The report's authors said that while Gruenberg's conduct was not "a root cause of the sexual harassment and discrimination in the agency," workplace culture "starts at the top."

Responding to Gruenberg's offer to resign, a White House spokesperson thanked Gruenberg for his "willingness to stay at FDIC until his successor is confirmed in order to continue to safeguard our nation's financial stability."

"The President of course expects the Administration to reflect the values of decency and integrity and to protect the rights and dignity of all employees," they said in a statement, adding that Biden would soon put forward a new nominee for chair "who is committed to those values."

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Source: AFP

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