Posted on April 16, 2021

The Fed Is ‘Overwhelmingly’ White and Male and Needs to Change, Study Says

Jeff Cox, CNBC, April 13, 2021

The Federal Reserve has a “staggering” lack of diversity among its directors who are charged with running the central bank’s 12 districts, according to a report Tuesday from a leading Washington think tank.

“The Federal Reserve System … has a diversity problem,” said the Brookings Institution report, authored by economists Peter Conti-Brown and Kaleb Nygaard. “This has long been obvious at the top of the organization, among the members of the Fed’s Board of Governors and the presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks.”

While those top Fed officials are “overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male,” the report said, the problem also extends into the boards of directors at the local operations, where “we find a staggering homogeneity among them, with only recent signs of diversification.”

Directors also are “overwhelmingly drawn from the business communities within their districts, with little participation from minorities, women, or from areas of the economy—labor, nonprofits, the academy—with important contributions to make to Fed governance.”

The report notes that in the central bank’s history, there have been just three Black members of the Fed’s board of governors, one Black regional president and only three nonwhite regional presidents.


No nonwhites served as Fed governor until the late 1970s, and they had less than 10% representation at the director level as late as the latter part of the last decade. It took until the 1990s until women made up 10% of directors, with the total hitting 37% as of 2019.