Black banking executives are fighting a demand by progressive Democrats that President-elect Joe Biden’s administration exclude anyone with corporate ties.
The heads of the National Bankers Association, the National Association of Securities Professionals, the Association of African American Financial Advisors, and several other groups have signed a letter arguing that dismissing finance-industry executives would unfairly impact minority candidates from top jobs in the next government.
“All of these leadership positions play a critical role in the development of economic policy in an administration and the execution of goals, strategies, and practices that impact all Americans,” the groups wrote in a letter to Biden sent on Wednesday. “Unless you are intentional about leveraging inclusion as a strategy to navigate the intersecting dynamics of race, economy, inequality, and power, we will not address these issues with the best minds possible.”
Although Biden has yet to announce ethics rules for staffing, he has banned lobbyists outside of a few exceptions. Progressive Democrats have made several demands in return for their support of Biden, who considers himself a moderate. Those demands include that Biden’s administration does not hand jobs to lobbyists.
Cameron French, a Biden transition team spokesman, told Bloomberg that Biden’s administration will be a diverse one with voices representing different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities.
“President-elect Biden will build a diverse administration that looks like America, starting with the first woman of South Asian descent and the first Black woman to serve as vice president-elect,” French said. “As he did during the campaign to his transition, Joe Biden will be intentional in finding diverse voices to develop and implement his policy vision to tackle our nation’s toughest challenges.”
So far, Biden teams are as diverse as he said they would be. People of color make up 46% of the current staff. Forty-one percent of Biden’s senior staff are people of color, and 53% are women. Also, the majority of Biden’s transition staff, 52%, are women.
Additionally, Biden has tapped several experts in systemic racism for his economic posts including Mehrsa Baradaran, a reparations expert who has worked with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on policies addressing racial wealth gaps.
The groups believe hiring Black banking executives with Wall Street experience will bring a different perspective to the room. Biden has selected several Black Americans to his staff with finance experience including Don Graves, a former KeyBank executive who is leading the transition team that will review the treasury department.
The groups also pointed out that a Black man or woman has never been tapped to lead the Federal Reserve, the SEC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
“A review of the people who have served in the top economic policy making positions in our country’s history shows a stunning and complete lack of racial and ethnic diversity,” the letter stated.
The letter was also signed by several civil rights groups advocating on behalf of Latino Americans, who want Biden’s team to interview three or more candidates of color for the aforementioned key roles.