Treasury Department to establish advisory committee on racial equity

EXCLUSIVE: The Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity will be the first step of a three-part strategy to modernize the department’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility operations. 

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: The U.S. Treasury Building, photographed on Friday, July 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The Department of Treasury plans to establish a Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity and has published notice of its formation in the the Federal Register.

The Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity will be the one part of a three-part strategy to modernize the department’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility operations. 

“This committee will generate insights on solutions that Treasury should be exploring,” Janis Bowdler, counselor for Racial Equity at the Department of Treasury, told theGrio. “Making sure that we do that with a focus on racial equity is incredibly important. 

The advisory committee will identify, monitor, and review aspects of the United States’ economy that have directly and indirectly resulted in unfavorable conditions for Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders communities. Some key areas of focus include financial inclusion, capital access, housing stability, federal government supplier diversity and economic development.

The committee will be chaired by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and consist of 25 members who will advise the Secretary and Deputy Secretary on areas of racial equity related to financial and economic policy. 

VP Harris And Sec. Yellen Hold Freedman Bank Forum
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks during the 2021 Freedman’s Bank Forum event at the U.S. Treasury Department on Dec. 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Later this month, the Treasury Department will seek nominations for committee members and hold briefings with Congressional leaders and external stakeholders. 

Potential members will likely come from the financial services industry, state regulatory authorities, consumer organizations, public advocacy and community-based groups, academia and philanthropic organizations.

To expand its options, the Treasury Department will accept nominations from the public on the Federal Register’s website within the next few weeks.  

The overall goal for the committee of diverse perspectives is to make community investments in underserved populations to ensure that coming out of the pandemic all Americans experience the fullest financial recovery. As a starting point, shoring up community finance infrastructure is expected to be on the agenda for the first committee meeting. This will include reviewing options for Minority Depository Institutions, including Black banks.

Wally Adeyemo
Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo testifies during the Senate Banking Committee hearing titled International Policy Update: The Treasury Departments Sanctions Policy Review and Other Issues, in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, October 19, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“We’re going to look at a broad range of issues that are root causes of the racial wealth divide,” Bowdler explained. “These are ways that we are institutionalizing the racial equity perspective beyond this administration.” 

Nikitra Bailey, senior vice president of public policy at the National Fair Housing Alliance, believes there are also many opportunities to advance the financial standing of the Black community with intentional housing policies. Some of her recommendations include centering racial equity in the Treasury Department’s handling of low-income housing tax credits and community development funding. 

“Rectifying housing discrimination actually provides us with an opportunity to really ignite economic growth,” Bailey told theGrio. “That economic growth will happen broadly for all communities.”

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