Monday, May 16, 2016

Federal Reserve is too ‘White and Male’ say Democrats

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
Democratic lawmakers recently forwarded a letter to Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen indicating that the level of diversity currently represented at the Fed is unacceptable.  The letter stated:  “When the voices of women, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Pacific Americans, and representatives of consumers and labor are excluded from key discussions, their interests are too often neglected. . . .  By fostering genuine full employment, the Federal Reserve can help combat discrimination and dramatically reduce the disproportionate unemployment faced by minority populations.”  The letter, signed by 11 U.S. Senators and more than 100 members of Congress, called upon chairperson Yellen to aggressively seek to increase minority and female representation at the Federal Reserve bank.  To wit: "[W]e remain deeply concerned that the Federal Reserve has not yet fulfilled its statutory and moral obligation to ensure that its leadership reflects the composition of our diverse nation in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, economic background, and occupation, and we call on you to take steps to promptly begin to remedy this issue."

The letter noted that the Federal Reserve bank leadership is "overwhelmingly and disproportionately white and male."  The Financial Times noted that "[e]leven of the 12 regional Federal Reserve Bank presidents are white and 10 of the 12 are men. All of the 10 current voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee, which sets monetary policy, are white, while four of them are women. Members of the Fed’s Board of Governors, who rank among the top rate-setters, are selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate, but the Board of Governors has a key role in selecting the Fed’s regional bank presidents."

Of course, this story begs the question, does diversity in the boardroom and diversity at the heights of fiscal policymaking make a difference?  Would the Fed set different policies if board members were women or persons of color?  Certainly 11 Senators and 116 Congresspersons believe so.

hat tip:  T.J. Williams, Indiana Tech Law School


  1. Thanks for the hat tip dean cummings.
    I think diversity is always effective at least in process if not outcome.
    I concede that physical diversity does not uniformly equal intellectual diversity. Because communities neither act nor think as a monolith, diversity in presence is not always predictive of a diverse perspective. That said, shared life experiences, unique to an under represented group, are still beneficial to the process whether they shape final determinations or not. At the risk of generalizing, there are a number of things under-represented groups of people nearly unanimously agree on relating to access, support and disparate treatment. To that end, a serious candidate for leadership at the Fed, who is from an under represented populace, will 9 times out of 10 be an advocate for that populace.
    In a vacuum, full scale diversity would be achieved with a serious and thoughtful diversity hiring initiative. Since the Fed is not a vacuum (and perhaps leans conservative) there is a danger of a destructive “diverse” mouth piece, but that danger is centered around outcome not process. While there are “diverse” individuals who infiltrate diversity initiatives and act as truculent diversity contrarians and xenophobia apologists (Ben Carson comes to mind), I’d argue that even those people are beneficial to the process in that they force issues to the table. In rooms with such individuals, their presence may serve as permission to dismiss concerns of diverse populations but at least the concern has been considered- the concern is present in the room with or without a proper advocate. When those concerns are present, even if dismissed, there’s a need to articulate and at times even justify discrimination. Forcing that conversation, forces the moral gymnastics and cognitive dissonance under-girding the determinations into the light.

  2. tj, i agree with much of what you say below. your perspective on the contrarian xenophobe was very VERY interesting. agree, even if under-represented views are not necessarily brought to view, the very presence of the contrarian shifts the room and the perspective.

  3. Equality of opportunity does not necessarily equal equality of outcome…and there is nothing wrong with that.

    The beauty of this country we live in is that you can do anything. There is no one physically standing in your way and liberals often point toward this boogie man named systemic or institutional racism. However, they struggle to point to who in the system is actually doing this. They point toward outcomes such as this. “If Organization x only has z amount of a skin color, Organization X=Racist!” But that’s not how it works… outcomes can be caused by a variety of factors. How about we stop looking toward the same two elite colleges to acquire talent from?

    If indeed someone or some system is being racist or xenophobic or any other ist, obe etc. then they should be pointed out so we can all fight them together. Simply pointing to a company, department or anything else with a certain makeup, without giving clear examples of the wrongs that lead them this this, is simply divisive and counterproductive. I hate to say it, but divisive language like this from Democrats is a major reason why Trump won and Republicans now control all three branches of the federal government and the lion’s share of state governments.

    While liberals were out demonizing certain groups of people, talking down to others, and telling people how to talk, the Republicans were busy winning and saving America. Also, I find it offensive that the previous comment attributed an organization being conservative to lacking diversity. Just look at the DNC Presidential field=two old, white politicians…Gop Field=Young and Old, White, Hispanic, Asian, Black, Male and Female, Outsiders and politicians. The key to diversity of thought and ideas isn't solely dependent upon the color of one's skin. -Christian