Economic Equity: St. Louis Fed Leaders

December 02, 2020

This 36-minute podcast was released Dec. 2, 2020, as a part of the Timely Topics: Economic Equity miniseries.

Clockwise from top left: Nikki Lanier, Francois Henriquez, Douglas Scarboro and James Price

“The quiet conversations have gotten louder,” Douglas Scarboro, regional executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Memphis Branch, says of willingness to address the topic of race. Pradeep Rajendran, senior manager, hosts a casual discussion with four St. Louis Fed executives: Scarboro; Francois Henriquez, general counsel; Nikki Lanier, regional executive of the Louisville Branch; and James Price, group vice president. They talk about challenges they have faced and what organizations can do to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.



Pradeep Rajendran: Welcome to Timely Topics from the St. Louis Fed. I’m your host, Pradeep Rajendran from the Public Affairs division, with a special episode on racial equity. This is part of our Economic Equity Podcast Series, and today we are speaking with several leaders of the St. Louis Fed.

I’d like to introduce Nikki Lanier, Douglas Scarboro, Francois Henriquez and James Price.

Nikki, let’s start with you. What’s your role at the Bank, and how long have you been here?

Nikki Lanier: I am the regional executive and senior vice president of the Louisville Branch, and I think I’ve been with the Bank about six and a half years.

Rajendran: Great. How about you, Douglas?

Douglas Scarboro: And I’m the regional executive for the Memphis Branch, and been with the Bank about six years. I came on about six months after Nikki, and then also with the system, I’m assistant secretary with the Conference of Presidents.

Rajendran: Thank you, Douglas. And, Francois, can you describe your roles here at the St. Louis Fed?

Francois Henriquez: Yes, I can. Thank you. I am the Bank’s general counsel, corporate secretary and ethics officer. And I’ve been with the Bank for just about two years.

Rajendran: And how about you, James?

James Price: Yeah, so I’m the longest running member of this group here. I currently am the group vice president responsible for areas such as facilities, law enforcement, logistics, cash operations and a few other groups. I’ve served a number of roles at the Bank. One of my previous roles was that of VP of Diversity and Inclusion and OMWI Director. I served in that role for about five years a few years ago.

Rajendran: Thank you for mentioning your background in the D&I space, James. We’ve been hearing a lot about diversity, inclusion and equity. Can you tell us a little bit more about what those terms mean to you, and maybe what’s the difference between diversity and inclusion, and also between inclusion and equity?

Price: Yeah, obviously, I’m glad you put the “what they mean to me” on the end of that question because I think you’ll get slightly different versions of this as you talk to different people. But, for me, diversity means, kind of, representation. And, what does the demographics of the organization look like. Most of the time you talk about diversity in these days and times, you’re talking about race, gender, ethnicity. So, that’s what diversity means—what are the demographics and the representation you have within the organization.

Inclusion is how you’re using that diversity, how you’re walking in that diversity. Do you have a culture that effectively uses the demographics and the level of the diversity you’ve attained through all your hiring practices and such. Are you listening to those folks? Are you benefitting from that diversity? That’s inclusion.

Equity is more about fairness, from my perspective. It is, you know, how fair are you with your opportunities and your pay and your promotions, et cetera? So, to me, diversity and inclusion is just the start of it. If you’re not equitably treating and rewarding those folks for their contributions, then, to me, your overall program isn’t effective.

Rajendran: Thank you, James, for defining those powerful and important terms in such an accessible way. I think that’s really going to help our conversations as we move forward.

I wanted to touch base with each of you and hear a little bit more about your backgrounds. I’m from India and have experienced diversity in my own way, but I wanted to talk about the challenges that you have faced and how they helped shaped you.

Francois, can you tell us a little bit more about your early experiences and how they shaped your career and college choices, and how you ended up here at the St. Louis Fed?

Henriquez: Thanks for that question. I grew up in the segregated south in South Florida in the 1960s. We lived in an all-Black neighborhood because we were required to do so by law. My parents were immigrants from the West Indies, and they moved to the United States, with the dreams like those of many immigrant parents that their children would have greater opportunities and would be able to go to better schools than they had, and have an opportunity to go to college and have good careers and better themselves.

It wasn’t until the late ’60s that school desegregation came to our part of the world, and for the first time in my life I was bussed out of my neighborhood into other schools, and there interacted with people who did not look like me. Our school was, at that point, a third Black and two-thirds white. And that was really my first experience with trying to figure out how to operate within a majority-white environment. From there I went on to college and law school. Law school and college were both extremely at low levels of minority populations, let’s put it that way. And then, my first job out of law school was at a very large, very old, very established Wall Street law firm. Needless to say, in the early ’80s I was the only Black associate at the firm at the time. There were no Black partners. There was, I think, one female partner. It was very different from the way it is today.

I left there after about five years and moved to the Midwest. I was a lawyer at a very large Kansas City law firm that was similarly structured. Very few women. Almost no people of color. And then I moved out of private practice into a world where I was a senior officer. I was the general counsel at a large financial institution. I was the only Black person in the financial institution. I was a member of senior management. I was the general counsel.

So, my experience coming here is very different from any experience I had leading up to coming here. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is a remarkably diverse institution by any count, but certainly by comparison to the organizations that I’ve had the privilege of working for before. I’ve been able to see dramatic change in the field of diversity, inclusion and equity over the course of my career. People didn’t even talk seriously about diversity back in the early ’80s. If you wanted to work in organizations like large law firms or large banks, and you were Black or you were Hispanic or Asian, you just had to find a way to fit in and make yourself as acceptable and palatable to the majority and those in power as you possibly could. That was very formative for me, and still in some respects informs the way I navigate the world at large, but particularly the world inside the Federal Reserve Bank and the Federal Reserve System.

Rajendran: Thank you for sharing those experiences, Francois. It looks like in a lot of different spaces, you’ve been blazing the trail, being the only Black person and a lot of times, the first Black person in the role, at least in that organization.

Nikki, turning to you, you’ve previously talked about your parents and how they helped shape your experiences and future. Can you share some of your early experiences and how they’ve helped shape your career?

Lanier: I don’t know that this would be different than most of us on this call. Our parents, that’s where our understanding of how we fit in the world and our assignment in it, that’s where it begins to become crystallized for most of us. And so my parents were very involved in the Civil Rights Movement. My parents have experienced atrocities in the only country they know as home because of the skin that they were born in. Their civil rights experiences have included being jailed and hosed by fire hoses and bitten by police dogs, spat upon in sit ins, chased down by Ku Klux Klan and police officers, wrongly arrested. So, the full gamut of what we know to have been a part of the Civil Rights Movement, and, bluntly, the full gamut of what we know to be the experience of Black people in this country even today.

So, that’s what I heard—the only child, and I say that because for those of you who are only children who may be listening to this, oftentimes we kind of sit under the seat of our parents, literally. I know I did. So, they poured into me because there wasn’t anybody else to pour into. And so, these are the stories that I heard growing up. These are the experiences that shaped everything about how they parented, how they led in their careers, how they served in communities in their adulthood.

I grew up on a historically Black college campus. Both of my parents were college professors, and primarily, not exclusively, taught at HBCUs very intentionally. So, I spent most of my life growing up on these Black college campuses. And so, I was surrounded not just with people who had great, incredibly stalwart academic credentials, but many of my parents’ coworkers who would frequent our homes after work or on the weekends, they too had the same experiences or very similar experiences that my parents did. So, this is what I was privy to. And so it shaped for me a really firm understanding of what it means to be Black in this country, and how I can marry academic prowess and professional acumen, advancing ideals around equity and equality, not just how I should do it, or that I should do it, but almost a mandate, if you will.

So, that’s kind of how I’ve always approached my work.

Rajendran: Thank you, Nikki, for sharing that. And it really shows the amount of impact that parents can have and our educators can have on people and how they help shape your thought processes, especially when you’re faced with such a challenging environment that you had to fight through and become successful.

James, what challenges have you faced and overcome in college and throughout your career?

Price: I’m probably on the other end of the spectrum than Nikki. I went to a small liberal arts college that was predominantly white. So, you’re really learning how to move in the term of “white space.” You learn how to move in that space. I’d never ever, in my life roomed with a white person. And that was my first roommate in college. So, you’re learning different things and learning how to maneuver. The Black population on our campus was so small, obviously we’re all in different disciplines and different majors. It’s one thing to be small on campus, but then you put that into a classroom setting where you’re the only Black person in the finance class or the microeconomics class, and so, you’re kind of learning how to overcome because that is a built-in challenge that many Black people face, you know, every day in whatever their walk of life is.

As you transition that to my career to the Fed, early on, we weren’t as diverse, particularly in the management ranks as we are today here at the Fed. And, you’d find yourself in a lot of situations as you’re moving through the Bank and moving through your career where you’re the only Black person in that room. And I don’t know if I can truly express, and I’d always try to figure out a way to express, how true amount of pressure that is, that you’re in there representing, and I don’t care if you say you’re not or you embrace it, you are representing a lot of people in that room because many times you’re the only person of your color that some of these folks are going to deal with on a consistent basis.

One of the biggest mental challenges you have in that environment is, you don’t necessarily believe there is a safe place to fail. If anyone thinks about if you’re ever in an environment where you don’t think you have the ability to fail, even fail at the slightest, real or made up in your mind, that’s a heavy burden to carry. And, so, those challenges you had to learn, again, as you move through the organization, you pick up mentors. You pick up nuggets. You pick up different people in your circle to help you through that. But those are the type of challenges that I’ve experienced as I’ve moved through my career.

Rajendran: You know, it is really powerful when you think about how this huge burden was on you, as a representative of the Black community, when you were in white spaces. And how you had to not only succeed for yourself but also had this burden to succeed for all of your community. So that’s something that I bet a lot of Black leaders have gone through, and it’s great for our listeners to think about.

Douglas, how about you? Can you talk about your challenges and how you have overcome them?

Scarboro: So, my experience is similar to many, and especially look at and think about the work that was done on Black boys where you see they’re more likely, even if they grow up in rich families, to end up poor themselves, and not end up rich. Where I think about the intentionality, not only of my father but also it’s my grandfather. I’m originally from North Carolina. And my grandfather was a farmer. And like Black farmers of that time, which would have been in the ’20s and ’30s then, you farm, you try to do the best you can. He had six boys. That was fortunate for him, so that way he had a lot of labor. And you try to make it the best that you can, and you try to help yourself, but also you try to help your community. And you try to find some kind of financial stability, but you also try to, for the greater community, you try to increase the economic standing, especially of your Black community.

With my dad growing up in that environment, he said that he didn’t want to be a farmer. He saw how hard of work and how slim the margins were, and how sometimes you were going to bed hungry. And, with that, he found out that he was very good in science, and after going to Vietnam, ended up going to dental school. And with dental school, it was because of his love of science, it wasn’t necessarily because he wanted to get a better financial future, but that’s what he ended up doing.

So, my challenge, being—obviously my father’s son, he went to two HBCUs for both undergrad at St. Aug, and also for graduate school, Howard Dental School—is looking at it and understanding the responsibility not only for myself, but then also for others, to not only help and work in the Black community, but try to reach a new economic standing for Blacks. There’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to have a father that allowed a good life for us. I was able to finish college and didn’t have any debt, and go out and go on to graduate school, and I had it in my head that I wanted to exceed his earnings. And I wanted to be able to provide more financial security for my family. And I think about that, and ultimately what it means when you’re mentoring or you’re doing something else, and you think about the images that Black boys see, and you always want to provide better images so that way it is not a replication of what happened in the past. Some of that imaging I think of how, from a financial stability standpoint, it’s been easier for us and it’s been possible for us to imagine and actually have a Black president. But we still have not had a Black treasury secretary. We still have not had a Black head of the Fed. These are positions that control finances the world around. And it’s not necessarily been one I’ve seen a robust discussion about, or it’s not been one that, I think, for our community that you need to make sure there’s a team that’s understanding of those individuals bringing a background like we’ve all talked about, will influence and change ultimately what happens in our macroeconomy.

Rajendran: Thank you very much for sharing that, Douglas. You know, it is very important for all of us to realize that for a Black person to be successful, it’s not very easy for it just to happen in one generation, sometimes it takes multiple generations of intentional moving towards a better financial stability for this whole generation of Black people to become successful.

Now let’s turn to a discussion of our work culture. We all work here at the St. Louis Fed, and let’s talk a little bit about that culture.

James, as we’ve discussed before, you have served as the vice president of diversity and inclusion at the St. Louis Fed. So, I’d like to start with you. In general, how have work cultures changed and evolved since you joined the workforce, and what are your thoughts on the Fed’s increased focus on diversity and inclusion over the years? What has been done, and, more importantly, what more can be done in terms of diversity, inclusion and equity?

Price: Yeah. As far as the work cultures, the biggest change is that we have stopped trying to put everyone in the exact same box. And we’ve recognized that folks come in shaped as boxes, circles, triangles, the whole nine, right? And we continue to learn how best to get that diversity and then, even better, to use it.

At the Fed in particularly, I would point to just this podcast. Through my many years at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, we didn’t have this many Black senior executives at the Bank. And that’s progress in and of itself. It just didn’t happen. We had a lot of processes in place that helped facilitate that and helped maintain some stuff at the status quo level that we have broken down over the years. And, so, that has changed tremendously for the Fed here in St. Louis.

One of the things that I think we continue to do at the Bank that we have to just keep moving forward with is being comfortable in talking about our flaws, and not contextualizing our flaws in the areas of improvement. That’s a very difficult thing for an organization to do.

That focus on diversity wasn’t just welcomed by me, because I have to say it was truly welcomed by me, but it’s also welcomed by all those employees that, over the years, have felt their groups have been marginalized and not included and not rewarded properly. I think we finally learned over the last several years, it’s hard to reach organizational full potential if not all folks feel like they are valued or included in this space.

I think your last piece was about equity. I think with equity, we have to learn how all of our employees feel about equitable treatment. Right? It’s easy for management to say, “We treat everybody in an equitable way,” but if that feeling is not shared amongst the masses, then we have major gap there. So, I think we have to understand what those feelings are, and then, once we get that understanding, either continue the practices that reinforce that, or develop practices or stop practices that actually work against it.

Rajendran: Thank you, James. You know, what is interesting and important, for me at least listening to this, is that just the thought doesn’t count in organizations. It takes intentional processes to make sure diversity, inclusion and equity are implemented properly and continue to improve. Thank you for bringing that point up.

Nikki, you have spoken a lot about these topics. What about you? Can you tell us about the evolution of work cultures you have witnessed, and specifically here at the St. Louis Fed? And what are your thoughts on what has been done, and, once again, more importantly, what more can be done?

Lanier: So, many may know, my background is in human resources, so I’m new to both this industry and this kind of function. That said, my job, in many ways, had been, historically, to advance these exact ideals. But what I became more frustrated by than not in my career, historically, was that it was hard to advance ideals that I wasn’t personally experiencing as an employee. So, being a part of some organizations that had a really hard time embracing just diversity, which, in my mind, is the lowest level on the rung. It just says we should hire more folks who don’t look like us. And that in and of itself, in many ways and in many places, had been met with strong opposition, fierce opposition. And so, to go to work in this skin, and feel as though you are constantly embattled in an area that’s so fundamental to who you are has been, historically, very difficult for me. And to be excellent. And to be the example that James talked about, and to not fail, and to assure that I’m not buying into or contributing to the existing stereotypes about Black women and our anger and our frustration and our sadness, and how that manifests at work. So, having to always manage that has probably been my greatest burden in my professional life.

Here at the Bank, I’m just really pleased to feel, finally, a sense of respite in that area. It’s not perfect, but it’s so much more advanced than what I had seen in years past, and I think it’s because what I have been able to witness just by virtue of my experiences on management committee, which is where, you know, it starts—for most organizations it starts at the very top of the organization. I was always heartened, even before the awakening that this year has provided, I was always heartened to know and to see and to hear conversations around diversity, even if it wasn’t on the agenda, to hear conversations around diversity in management committee meetings with fair regularity, and with a lot of genuine interest. And so that always made me feel better just as an employee. That contributed to my sense of belonging and in some ways I felt as though I was in an environment where I could exhale finally.

The work that I think needs to continue to advance is really in the equity space. I think a lot of organizations have done a great job in making strides in the diversity, and to some extent the inclusion space, but most organizations—and I’d say the Federal Reserve also—had really not focused as intentionally on equity as we know it today. We, I think, thought that equity meant everybody’s getting what they deserve. Everybody’s getting the same thing. At least from my perspective, equity is far more acute than that. It really is about acknowledging, and this is a slightly more focused, I guess, definition than maybe what James had provided. I see equity as a part of advancing the dismantling of racism that is already at play in any work environment. And that’s not an indictment of the Fed or anyone. It’s just an acknowledgement that we exist in a larger construct where racism is alive and well as a structure. Maybe not as behaviors every single day, but the structures of racism have to exist in any workplace, including the Federal Reserve. And so, equity says, we’re going to figure out where that structure is playing itself out. We’re going to unearth it, and we’re going to address it. And, we’re going to do our part in trying to remedy the effects of it, cumulative and otherwise. So, that’s where I’d like to see us do more potent and pointed focused work.

Rajendran: Thank you for really defining a little bit more about equity and thinking of it as dismantling the racism that is already at play in the work environment and not just about current equity. Thank you so much for that, Nikki.

Douglas, how have you seen work cultures evolve and change over the years, and what are your thoughts about the work culture here at the St. Louis Fed?

Scarboro: So, I think about work cultures, because I didn’t grow up in the Fed. Like I said, I’ve been here almost six years. And the thing I’ve seen externally is the quiet conversations have gotten louder, and then internally some of the things that weren’t necessarily discussed before are being discussed now. So, externally you think about either being on a team or being an executive, especially being a minority executive, there’d be other people in the organization, whether they’re executives on the senior team or either just they’re workers as well. And there will always be those quiet conversations, where you will look at somebody during a meeting and make an expression, or you have a conversation after work where you, kind of like, did you see that? Did you pick up what I was picking up as well? And I feel like those conversations have gotten louder, especially after the killing of George Floyd this summer.

Internally, I’ve seen it—and I would say probably the effects of the work of people like James who’ve been here for a number of years have put in. And I came in, and that was not too long after Michael Brown and the work that the Bank had done on Kaleidoscope. Having a background in education and adult education, I knew that there was a shift in the people, and I could feel that something had been done here, and that there was an environment that would allow for conversations that hadn’t previously been held. And I say that because, having conversations with one of the senior leaders of the Bank, and he was saying that, before it was not a conversation—or, it was not a concern about what the employee’s life was like outside of the workplace, that they viewed it as: This happened outside. It has nothing to do with the Bank. We’re focused on Bank things. We’re going to keep our head down. We’re going to get our work done. Ultimately knowing that those things that happen in the outside environment, that happen in that home environment, especially things that are as disruptive as the uprising in Ferguson post the death and killing of Michael Brown, that those are going to affect the workplace, and they’re going to affect how people orient to the workplace.

Rajendran: It’s really interesting, like you mentioned, how quiet conversations have become louder and the Bank has more and more embraced that employees here are a product of our full environment, and we’ve been having more courageous and loud conversations about what’s happening in the society and how that’s impacting our Bank as well. Thank you for bringing that up, Douglas.

And, Francois, the same question to you. How do you think work cultures have evolved, and how do you feel about the St. Louis Fed’s culture in your experience?

Henriquez: Well, I’ve been a lawyer and a financial services executive for my entire career. I’ve been doing this for well into three decades. So, I’ve seen tremendous change in the workplace culture in the field of finance and law. Those are two stubborn sectors. We still have a long way to go. For example, the representation of minority partners in elite law firms is still stubbornly very low. Similarly, when you look at boards of large financial services providers, you still see very, very low levels of representation of Blacks, women, other minority groups. That’s also true of senior officials of most financial institutions. So, we still have a long way to go.

But, when I started my career, there was really no recognition of the need for even diversity. It was something that was beginning to be talked about, but it was mostly honored in the breech. And there was really a focus almost on tokenism. Hey, we’ve got one or two Black people. We’ve now met our obligations, and so we’re fine. That was the way the world was in the ’80s, and to some extent in the ’90s. But thanks to a lot of work by a lot of people pushing and advocating for change, research showing that diverse organizations tended to be more productive, more profitable, those things have helped move the needle. Again, in the private sector in finance and law, there’s still a long way to go.

That being said, it’s really delightful to be at the Federal Reserve, because for various reasons, we’ve done a better job, I think, than the private sector in this regard. Not that we are perfect. We probably have quite a bit more that we can do and should do, but I’m heartened by the work that’s already been done. I hear James talk about when he began his career at the Fed. At this Bank there was no way we would be even having these kinds of conversations that we have almost routinely now. And I, for one, have been a beneficiary of seeing that culture change. I can say, like others on this podcast, that I know what it’s like to be the one and only, to feel like all eyes are on you, and that you might be the only Black person that people in this room will ever encounter. So, you have the burden of proving that you’re as good as they are. And that’s not a very welcoming environment at all.

And I think we’ve done a very good job here at the Bank of turning that around to some degree. And we’re much more welcoming. We focus on not just diversity, not just inclusion, but we’re working towards equity. That’s a great thing to say.

I also think that I’ve been very privileged to stand on the shoulders of giants, people who have come before me who have paved the way and helped open these doors. And, as a member of senior management, soon to have a very significant role in our areas of people and culture and diversity, equity and inclusion, I’m committed to making sure that I’m doing my share to make progress continue to happen here at the Bank, and also at the Federal Reserve System to the extent we can do it in our greater community.

Rajendran: Thank you for sharing that, and I really want to touch a little bit on how you brought up tokenism. It takes a lot of thinking and pushing through to make sure we go towards actual diversity, inclusion and equity. I’m really glad that the Bank has been able to do a lot of that and has continued to have that courageous conversation to make sure that we are heading towards the right direction. And thanks to people like you on the podcast for making that happen.

Before we conclude, I’d like to ask all of you: Is there anything else you’d like to bring up today that we have not talked about or any closing thoughts that you want to share?

I’ll start with Douglas. Do you have any closing thoughts to add?

Scarboro: Oh, absolutely. The part I think about is, you have people that are publicly endorsing and understanding the need for diversity, equity and inclusion. You have the ones that are privately doing it. And they’re ultimately our allies in saying, what is it that we can do to be able to assist and help. And the things that I think about with that are privately and publicly endorsing, especially qualified minorities, for positions and for certain roles that you hadn’t necessarily thought of. The public is extremely important. The private is important as well, when you’re in small groups of friends.

Also, using your privilege, whether you see it or not, to make a difference, to be able to fill in that gap for others.

And then, lastly, is helping find ways to get to success. I remember from my undergrad, one of our statements was find a niche or make one, basically, was the thought pattern of finding your way in the world. And when I think about that with success, a study that I’ve seen that—or survey that I saw, and it was saying that 68% of CEOs weren’t ready when they first started the job. I think that’s true of a lot of positions, especially when you see non-minorities in those positions.

So, publicly endorsing, finding ways to be able to get to success and prepare people—you know, put them in a role, and then help them get prepared, and also using privilege to make a difference.

Rajendran: Thank you, Douglas.

James, do you have any closing thoughts to share?

Price: I would just echo what Douglas mentioned. I think diversity, equity and inclusion are “we” issues and not “they” issues. So, it takes everyone to kind of move that needle. The one thing I would say about allyship is, everyone needs to recognize, I don’t care what group you’re the ally of, it’s hard. Right? Allyship is not something you do as a convenience. You are truly supportive, even in your community, your circle of friends. You know, that you allow no safe zones for bigotry and racism and the like. And so, allyship is a hard thing.

Rajendran: Thank you, James.

Francois, what about you? Do you have any closing thoughts, and anything that you’d like to discuss?

Henriquez: I think it’s important to understand that the Bank and, indeed, the Federal Reserve System find themselves in a place in history that’s almost unique. I don’t know that there’s ever been a time when the Federal Reserve, and this Bank, have understood that it is not a break with our traditionally nonpartisan perspective to take a stand for racial equality. We think that this is just baseline that’s good for the economy, and it’s good for the people of the United States. I think that’s an important perspective. It’s one that I don’t think would have been necessarily recognized just a handful of years ago.

So, at this very important juncture, we’re doing something that is momentous. It’s very important, and I think we are really examining ourselves in ways that we never did before to make sure that we are providing an engaging workplace where we can draw on the talents and experiences of a wide variety of people, and that we understand that those divergent perspectives make us stronger as a Federal Reserve System, as a Bank, and, indeed, as a country.

So, I’m very encouraged by where we are here at the Fed. And I’m very proud and delighted to be a part of the process.

Rajendran: Francois, thank you so much for sharing your closing thoughts there.

Nikki, what about you? Do you have any closing thoughts?

Lanier: Yeah, I think we got to be really careful about the narrative around racism. I think it’s important for us to advance dialogue in our homes, in the workplace and communities, and talk about racism in the context of economics because that is where it is most potently impacting all of us. This is not about social justice. This is not about charity. This is about structures that have rendered, and will continue to render, especially as we advance toward 2045 where minorities are the majority. It’s about structures that will render our country less than optimal from an economic standpoint. And so we are all impacted by the fact that we cannot and have not been able to get this ideal of equity and justice, and advancing humanity that gets so attached to all people. It’s impacting all of us. So, I think as you’re having your dinner table conversations and you may have some family members that are still not there, talk about it in the context of the overall economic imperative that this moment brings for all of us.

Rajendran: Thank you, Nikki, for bringing up that important point.

This has been a great and insightful discussion, and I want to thank our guests today—Francois Henriquez, Nikki Lanier, Douglas Scarboro and James Price—for taking the time and being willing to share your personal stories and thoughts with us today.

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Economists and experts talk about their research, topics in the news and issues related to the Fed. Views expressed are not necessarily those of the St. Louis Fed or the Federal Reserve System.

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