The Federal Reserve system’s leadership does not reflect the country’s diversity at any level. Progress towards changing this has been unacceptably slow.
● The Federal Reserve Board of Governors is 100% White. A Black woman has never
served on the board.
● There has only ever been one Black Federal Reserve Bank President — Raphael Bostic, appointed in 2017. To date, there have been zero Latinx Reserve Bank Presidents.
● 83% of Federal Reserve Bank Presidents are white and 75% are men.
● Recent rounds of Fed leadership have passed up opportunities to make bigger strides towards diversifying the ranks of regional bank presidents, including by reappointing all of the presidents in 2021, despite their shocking lack of diversity.
● 77% of senior Federal Reserve employees are white.
It is crucial that you nominate Fed Governors with a deep commitment to ending systemic racial inequalities in the American economy. As Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and African American Studies scholar David Stein wrote last year, there is “very little evidence” that the Fed in recent years has heeded its obligation under the Humphrey-Hawkins Act to reduce disparities in unemployment between marginalized groups and the broader population.
Open Letter to President Joe Biden
Dear President Biden,
You have consistently affirmed your commitment to appointing officials across the federal government who reflect our country’s diversity. Since taking office, you have made significant progress towards that goal, and you have built the most historically diverse presidential administration in history. However, as you know, when it comes to diversity much work remains to be done. Many outstanding appointments remain and among these are the multiple vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors (the “Board”).
We, the undersigned organizations, write to you to ask that you take this opportunity to nominate a historic slate of candidates who will increase the Board’s diversity and who will each commit to increasing diversity throughout the Federal Reserve System.
As it stands, the Federal Reserve System’s leadership does not reflect the country’s diversity at. The Board of Governors’ membership is entirely white and, to date, a Black woman has never served on the Board. The problem touches the Federal Reserve’s Regional Banks as well, where 83% of presidents are white and 75% are men. To date, no Latino person has served as a regional bank president and only one Black man – the current Atlanta bank president, Raphael Bostic – has held a regional bank president position.
Moreover, 77% of senior Federal Reserve employees are white. A New York Times analysis found that “Black people are less represented within the Fed than in the [economics] field as a whole.” While “3 to 4% of the U.S. citizens and permanent residents who graduate as Ph.D. economists each year” are Black – which is, itself, quite a small percentage – only 0.5% of Federal Reserve employees are Black.
The Federal Reserve is one of the most powerful institutions in the country. Its decisions — on monetary policy, bank regulation, lending, and even economics research — all impact racial equity. For too long, homogenous leadership has brushed these inequities aside. In many cases, the Federal Reserve’s leadership has even adopted policies that worsen racial inequality.
Progress towards improving diversity in the Federal Reserve System has been worryingly slow. It is time to treat the lack of diversity as the crisis that it is. With your upcoming appointments to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, you have the opportunity to swiftly and decisively address this issue. We, the undersigned organizations, encourage you to seize this opportunity and appoint a historic, diverse slate of candidates who will make full use of their power to increase diversity throughout the entire Federal Reserve System.
Thank you for your consideration.
Coalition of Supporters
The following groups signed onto Open Letter (see above) in support of a more representative Federal Reserve.
2021 Analysis of Diversity in Federal Reserve Leadership (The Center for Popular Democracy)
Diversity within the Federal Reserve System (Brookings Institution)