Document Type


JEL Codes

G30, M14


A growing chorus has called on the Federal Reserve System to diversify its ranks at all levels to reflect better the heterogeneity of the United States. So far, most of these efforts speak to the diversity of the Fed’s principals, namely, the members of the Fed’s Board of Governors and the presidents of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks, who together form the Federal Open Market Committee. In this study, we look instead at a vital part of Federal Reserve governance that has so far not received the same sustained attention: the directors of the Federal Reserve Banks, those private citizens responsible for choosing the presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks in the first instance and otherwise providing corporate oversight over the Federal Reserve Banks. We find a staggering homogeneity among them, with only recent signs of diversification and only then in some parts of those boards. The boards are overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male, and overwhelmingly drawn from the business communities within their districts, with little participation from minorities, women, or certain areas of the economy—labor, nonprofits, the academy. We conclude by recommending that the Federal Reserve System—the Board of Governors, the Federal Reserve Banks, and the member banks that belong to the system and vote for some of these directors—make its selection processes more transparent for outside evaluation such that progress (or lack thereof) can be better measured and attributed.

Date Revised