Too white, too male: Fed takes on diversity one bank board member at a time
The Fed eral Reserve, long criticized for being too white and male, crossed a substantial milestone last year: for the first time in its 107-year ...
FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building on Constitution Avenue is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File PhotoBoard members are not policymakers themselves. But they share their perspectives on the economy in regular meetings with each of the 12 bank presidents who, along with five Fed policymakers in Washington, set the nation's interest rates.
As of Jan. 1, 64 of the 108 directors at all 12 Federal Reserve banks were women, or men of African-American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American descent. In 2015, 70 of the 108 were white men.Even so, the Fed's boards overall are more diverse than corporate America. Women constitute 26per cent of directors at S&P 500 Index companies, according to a May 2019 report from Spencer Stuart. At the top 200 companies, minorities accounted for 19per cent of directors. Boards at big U.S. banks are 30per cent female and 20per cent minority, a report published this month by House Financial Services Committee Democrats showed.
Fed banks have long sought directors from a range of industries and places. But in 2011, an audit by the Government Accountability Office found"limited" representation of women and minorities on Fed bank boards."You're a central bank. You should be representing the public," she told Reuters.
"I thought it was important, and we hadn't done enough," said Yellen, who decided to improve the pipeline that feeds into the board of director appointments."My work has been much crisper, more precise and less speculative because of the presence of diversity," Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said.
By 2016, Congress was paying attention: 127 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Yellen urging the Fed to better"reflect and represent the interests of our diverse country.""Public trust in the Fed is critical, and we need to look like the people we work for," Kashkari said.
In recent years, the Fed has also revamped its recruiting system for economists to attract more women and minorities, with a particular focus on bringing them in as research assistants to kick-start their careers. They remain well outnumbered by white, male peers, reflecting the economics profession as a whole.
Read more: CNA
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