Congresswoman Beatty to head new panel promoting diversity in banking

Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)
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Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Rep. Joyce Beatty is a Dayton native and graduate of Central State and Wright State.

Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty was named Thursday to chair a new House subcommittee aimed at promoting diversity within the banking industry.

Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D–Calif., tapped Beatty, a Columbus-area Democrat, to lead the House Financial Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion.

Beatty is a Dayton native and a graduate of Central State University and Wright State Univesity.

The committee at large approved the selection. Beatty must still be formally voted chair by the House Democratic Policy and Steering Committee next week, but such votes are typically formalities.

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Also this week, the House Appropriations Committee named Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, chair of its Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, while Reps. Troy Balderson, R–Zanesville, and Anthony Gonzalez, R–Rocky River, were selected to serve on the House Science Committee.

Beatty had fought hard for the position, spending months advocating for the creation of such a subcommittee. In an interview, Beatty said she’s been concerned for some time about a lack of diversity in the financial services industry. As a new House member on the Financial Services Committee years ago, she became alarmed at the lack of women and minorities speaking on behalf of the Federal Reserve and other institutions within financial services.

To her, she said, 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 required league 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 early this year, Beatty introduced a bill that would require at least one candidate who is a woman or a minority to be interviewed when there is a vacancy among the Federal Reserve Bank presidents. A companion version of Beatty’s bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who recently announced she is running for president in 2020.

“What’s most important to me is diversity of thought and environment and culture,” Beatty said.

Though her bill has not passed yet, she was heartened when, in 2017 the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta named Raphael Bostic, former assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and professor at the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, as the 15th president and chief executive officer of the Atlanta Federal Reserve.

Bostic was the first African–American to serve as a Federal Reserve Regional Bank president in the Fed’s 104–year history. The Fed is more diverse in gender as well: Three women are currently serving as Federal Reserve Regional Bank presidents. It did not have a female president until 1982.

Beatty said in her new subcommittee she aims 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.”