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San Francisco Fed sets diversity goal for boards, councils

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank on Friday set a five-year goal for achieving diversity on its boards and advisory councils, whose members help shape the Fed’s understanding of the economy, and ultimately its policies.

The Fed’s westernmost outpost, like all 12 regional Fed banks, has a main nine-member board of directors, as well as seven-member boards for each of its four branches, and three advisory councils.

"The audacious goal I’m setting for myself and the Bank is that we achieve full representation — wholly reflecting the communities we serve — on our Boards of Directors and Advisory Councils within five years," Robin Rockwood, the bank's senior vice president of public engagement, said here on the bank's medium page. "The more our Boards of Directors reflect our District’s diversity — in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, sector, and geography — the better we’re able to serve the public with quality deliberations and decision-making."

The public pledge comes as the U.S. central bank overall has pushed to make the boards overseeing its 12 Fed banks look much more like America here.

This year, 34% of the directors on the Fed’s 12 regional bank boards identify as racial or ethnic minorities, up from 29% last year and 17% in 2016, a recent Reuters analysis shows.

Some 44% are women, up from just over a quarter five years ago.

The boards are influential because their members regularly share their experiences and views on the economy with the Fed bank presidents, who along with the Washington-based Fed Board of Governors set the nation’s interest rates every six weeks or so.

They also pick new Fed presidents when the current ones retire.

In 2015, white men were the majority on all but one Fed bank board. In 2021, the San Francisco Fed’s board was the only one where that was still true.

The San Francisco Fed’s branch boards appear to be more diverse than its main board. All of the Portland branch directors are women, for instance.

Reporting by Ann Saphi; Editing by David Gregorio