According to numerous former employees, the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) has a significant problem with toxic workplace culture. Employees at some of the busiest branch locations describe a work environment that involves heavy drinking, misogynistic innuendos, and a lack of accountability. Despite numerous complaints, management at the FDIC has consistently whitewashed the allegations.
Many of the complaints involve male employees who force female employees to drink excessively while on business and arrange off-site meetings at strip clubs. Few female employees file complaints, and the FDIC typically moves employees accused of violating standards rather than terminating them.
An investigation by The Wall Street Journal found numerous violations in court records, complaints, and interviews with more than 100 current and former employees. At least 20 of the former employees were women who quit their jobs because of bad behavior by male employees.
Many of the most vile complaints revolve around the conduct of employees while staying at the FDIC hotel while training to become examiners. The Journal describes the hotel as a “party house” at which employees become so drunk they throw up on the roof of the 11-story building.
An effect of the toxic culture at the FDIC is a high turnover rate. The Journal found that just 48% of employees hired in 2017 remain with the commission, whose task is to ensure stability in the nation’s banking system. An internal investigation into how the agency missed signs that three significant banks were failing earlier this year found that high turnover played a factor.
Turnover at the commission appears to be accelerating in the wake of the #MeToo movement. In 2021, just 24 employees left the commission, but that number more than doubled in 2022 to 54 departures. Between January and September this year, 62 employees have quit, but the Commission does not provide reasons.
The FDIC has hired an independent firm to conduct an assessment of alleged harassment and discrimination at the banking regulator, hours after WSJ published an investigation that found a longtime toxic atmosphere prompted women to quit the agency https://t.co/Fawzw70tY7
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) November 13, 2023
In case after case the Journal examined, the FDIC did not adequately handle complaints. An internal investigation into allegations in 2020 found the FDIC’s policies and procedures for handling allegations were inadequate. There has been no evidence that the commission has made any changes. The FDIC has recorded no complaints of harassment since 2020.
Employees told the Journal that fear of retribution dampens complaints. They cited a persistent belief that no change will come. The Journal found numerous instances of male supervisors moving to other locations following complaints rather than termination while acknowledging that the complaints were substantiated.
The report did not identify any instances in which complaints about abusive behavior led to the termination of supervisors. Following the investigation by the Journal, the FDIC placed at least one male supervisor on administrative leave after being demoted.