Warren calls for diversity in Federal Reserve leadership
By Evan Lips | May 12, 2016, 18:10 EST
WASHINGTON – The latest crusade in the name of diversity commenced on Thursday, this time aimed squarely at the makeup of the Federal Reserve’s leadership and spearheaded in part by Elizabeth Warren, the senior U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
The Cambridge Democrat recently linked up with fellow Democrat, Michigan U.S. Rep. John Conyers, to send a letter to Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, asking the former Clinton administration adviser to take action. They cited a 1977 law that requires the bank regulator to reflect the nation’s diversity.
The progressive duo began their missive by praising her work under President Barack Obama before stating that they “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.” Instead, they said, the central bank’s leadership “remains overwhelmingly and disproportionately white and male,” and is drawn mainly from major banks and corporations.
The letter cites a statistic reported in February by the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy that indicates that “83 percent of Federal Reserve head office board members are white” while “men occupy nearly three-fourths of all regional bank directorships.”
The lawmakers assert that the discussions among Fed leaders regarding labor market conditions never once mentioned the situation confronting blacks in 2010, the most recent year for which full transcripts are available. The lawmakers point out that the unemployment rate for blacks that year never fell below 15.5 percent, while the nation’s average jobless rate hovered just below 10 percent during most of that post-recession period.
Fellow Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Ed Markey put his signature on the letter, alongside those of more than 120 other Democrats in Congress
Warren and Conyers later took to social media to rally the public around the cause:
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) May 12, 2016
— John Conyers (@RepJohnConyers) May 12, 2016
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, was also quick to throw her support behind the call for diversity:
Hillary Clinton to support Federal Reserve change sought by liberals https://t.co/hWdxtyNz7R
— David Wessel (@davidmwessel) May 12, 2016
“The Fed needs to be more representative of America as a whole,” Jesse Ferguson, a Clinton campaign spokesman, told the Associated Press Thursday, adding that Clinton also opposes the fact that three private-sector bankers currently sit on each regional Fed bank board.
The Fed is actively working to further diversify its ranks, bank spokesman Dave Skidmore said in a statement provided to AP.
“Minority representation on Reserve Bank and Branch boards has increased from 16 percent in 2010 to 24 percent in 2016,” Skidmore told AP. “The proportion of women directors has risen from 23 percent to 30 percent over the same period. Currently, 46 percent of all directors are diverse in terms of race and/or gender (with a director who is both female and a minority counted only one time).”
“We are striving to continue that progress.”