The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
WASHINGTON — Rep. Joyce Beatty was named Thursday to chair a new House subcommittee that has a goal of promoting diversity in the banking industry.
Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D–Calif., tapped Beatty, a Jefferson Township Democrat, to lead the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion.
The committee approved the selection. Beatty needs to be formally voted chair by the House Democratic Policy and Steering Committee next week, but such votes are typically formalities.
Also this week, the House Appropriations Committee named Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, chair of its Energy and Water Development Subcommittee.
Reps. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, and Anthony Gonzalez, R-Rocky River, were selected to serve on the House Science Committee. Balderson also will serve on the Small Business Committee.
Beatty had fought hard for the position, advocating for months for the creation of such a subcommittee. In an interview, Beatty said she has been concerned for some time about a lack of diversity in the financial-services industry. As a new House member serving on the Financial Services Committee years ago, she became alarmed by the lack of women and minorities speaking on behalf of the Federal Reserve and other institutions in the industry.
To Beatty, it’s a no-brainer: A variety of perspectives can only help the industry. As she watched witness after witness come before the committee, “it became very clear and evident to me that we have an unbalanced system.”
The system, she said, is “a world that didn’t include a lot of minorities, meaning women and racial minorities. I thought: ‘How can I bring this to light but not make it just a numbers game, because that’s why I’m not doing it?'”
She thought of the NFL’s “Rooney Rule” — named after former Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney — that requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior operations jobs. The requirement was not that an ethnic minority be hired, just that at least one be interviewed. Beatty thought such a rule might work well for the Federal Reserve.
In 2017 and again this year, Beatty introduced a bill that would require at least one candidate who is a woman or a minority to be interviewed when a Federal Reserve Bank presidency is vacant. A companion version of Beatty’s bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who recently announced that she is running for president in 2020.
“What’s most important to me is diversity of thought and environment and culture,” Beatty said.
She was heartened when, in 2017, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta named Raphael Bostic, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and a professor in the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, as the bank’s 15th president and chief executive officer. Bostic was the first African–American to serve as a president of a regional bank in the Federal Reserve’s 104 years.
The Fed has become more diverse in gender as well: Three women are presidents of Federal Reserve regional banks, including Loretta J. Mester in Cleveland. No woman had held such a post until 1982.
Beatty said she aims in her new subcommittee to take a magnifying glass to the entire industry to make sure it looks like America.
“These are business decisions,” she said. “It’s not about ‘feel good’ or counting numbers; it’s about changing the culture, the quality of service and the benefits to constituents or customers.”
jwehrman @ dispatch.com
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