April 3, 2018 / 6:42 PM / 8 months ago

UPDATE 1-San Francisco Fed to seek diversity in hunt for new chief

(Adds comments, background)

By Ann Saphir

SAN FRANCISCO, April 3 (Reuters) - The San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank will appoint a committee in the next few days to conduct a “full-blown search throughout the world” for a new president, the bank’s chair Alex Mehran said on Tuesday.

“Diversity will be a key factor” in the search for a leader to succeed John Williams, who on Tuesday was named as the next chief of the New York Fed, Mehran told Reuters in an interview. “It’s one of the important cultural issues at this Fed.”

The New York Fed has been criticized for picking Williams, a white 55-year-old man, even though it made diversity a key focus of its search for a new president.

The co-chairs of that search have defended their choice, saying that they interviewed a range of candidates from many backgrounds but found Williams to be the best one, and arguing that as far as diversity goes Williams should be judged on his actions rather than his skin color.

During Williams’ tenure the proportion of non-white senior leadership at the San Francisco Fed rose to 46 percent, the highest among all 12 regional Fed banks.

Mehran said he believes his bank can be “a little more patient” than the New York Fed in finding a suitable candidate, and pledged to seek input from the public on the process.

“We will be as open as we possibly can,” he said, adding that he is very sad to see Williams leave.

The bank’s chief of research, labor economist Mary Daly, is thought to be a potential candidate for the position. (Reporting by Ann Saphir; editing by Diane Craft)

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