Atlanta Fed chief: Workplace diversity will boost US economy

Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Grace Walker / WABE

The head of the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta says workplace diversity is not only a moral issue, but will boost the U.S. economy.

Raphael Bostic spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a story published on Saturday. He’s been named the 2022 chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Bostic four years ago became the first Black and the first openly gay person to head a regional bank. The Atlanta Federal Reserve district is made up of Alabama, Florida, Georgia and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

His role there includes talking to local business leaders, and Bostic — a Stanford University-trained economist — said he’s found not all executives see diversity as a priority. Some also struggle to measure or improve their performance in that area.

But Bostic said he believes diversity will improve the economy.

“In my role, my focus is on economics, the health of the U.S. economy and getting us to a place where we can experience the full potential of everyone,” he told the AJC. “It’s my view that, when we have more fulsome participation of everyone in the U.S. economy, the economy is actually going to grow faster. It’s going to be stronger. It’s going to be more resilient.”

The value of diversity was apparent to him as a research economist at the Federal Reserve in Washington — his first job after graduate school. His team was very diverse, and that helped flush out any hidden biases, so “the final product was actually stronger and more objectively articulated and characterized than it would have if any two of us, or any one of us, had been on the team,” he said.

He said the country is making progress toward equity, but he worries about maintaining focus on the issue.

“We didn’t get to this place in just a handful of days, so it’s going to take a while and a longer-term commitment in order to see change along these dimensions,” he said. “That is going to require perseverance and patience, and these are things that are harder to maintain and sustain. I’m hopeful we can find ways to allow ourselves not to be distracted as we try to build a better United States and a better economy, one that works for everyone.”