Could limiting applicants to companies complicate Biden’s diversity efforts?


President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has made building a diverse team a priority. He is also facing pressure from the progressive wing of his party to limit corporate influence over hires for his administration, avoiding candidates on Wall Street or company boards. But some business leaders suggested to the DealBook newsletter that narrowing the pool of candidates in this way would not help create a more representative administration.

“Big companies are here to help,” said Ronald C. Parker, CEO of the National Association of Securities Professionals. Women and people of color in business are having “a unique experience that lends itself to be heard,” he said. This week, the NASP and seven other trade groups sent a letter to Mr Biden urging him to prioritize diversity in key economic policy positions and to “reject blanket exclusion requests from potential candidates with a experience in the corporate sector or in the field of financial services in particular. . “

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Roger W. Ferguson Jr., one of the most prominent black executives in the financial industry, recently announced his retirement as CEO of TIAA. He is said to be on the Treasury Secretary’s shortlist and is getting the backing of Mr Parker.

According to a report by Chris Brummer of the Georgetown Institute for International Economic Law, only 10 of 327 federal financial agency appointments requiring confirmation from Congress over the years have been black. Earlier this month, Mr. Brummer was named a member of Mr. Biden’s Treasury Department advisory review team.

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The barrier to more diverse hiring “isn’t the skill set, it’s the relationships,” said Petal P. Walker of law firm WilmerHale, former chief advisor to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. People tend to hire whoever they golf or drink with, she says, so it takes “intentional action” to break down established cliques.

Calls to reject corporate nominations ignore U.S. history, said Paul Thornell, former Senate and White House staff member of lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti. The generational wealth gap created by a long history of discrimination leaves fewer people of color able to afford to take government or nonprofit jobs. “Far-left groups are issuing executive orders,” he said, “but these do not reflect the realities of the American experience or of inequality, the racial wealth gap, and may s ” being counterproductive in diversifying administration and implementing policies that work for all Americans. “

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