The Absence of Colour in Leadersip

When you examine the history of the “Bretton Woods” institutions, one learns about the informal agreement between the United States and the European countries. Regarding their leadership: “Traditionally, the president of the World Bank has been nominated by the US, while the head of its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund has been picked by European countries.”

This January, when Dr. Kim suddenly announced that he would be stepping down as the President of the World Bank, that was a shock (what was refreshing was that a female non-American would now be acting in his place). Amongst all the faces of white American men on the wall, he was the only portrait there that was even slightly different. However, when he was first appointed, there was an attempt to have “open recruitment” given the growing pressure for a candidate from an emerging market country.

In 2012, for the first time, it was an open nomination and selection process (according to the formal press statements). Critics question how real this was. Given that voting is in accordance with each member states’ financial contributions to the organisation, and the openly stated agreement between the powerhouses, wouldn’t that make such an effort futile?

The final candidates in 2012 – positions at the time:
Korean- American Jim Yong Kim (left), a medical doctor and the president of Dartmouth College
Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Economist, development expert and the Finance Minister of Nigeria.

Side Note: Doesn’t this remind you of gender discrimination training, when they give an example of a situation with a women who is super qualified for a job but the one who gets the job has a totally “different resume”? Oh yeh, and the “better” (read preferred) candidate happens to be male. But you know, it was a competitive process…Righhhhtt????

Scrolling through the List of World Bank leadership and IMF Senior Officials, there is a horrific absence of color.

Is it no wonder that the respective goals to “end poverty” and “to ensure the stability of the international monetary and financial system” are (whisper this with me…) questionably unsuccessful? This status quo is not confined to just these two institutions. The absence of representation at the very top is strong evidence of the racial limitations imposed within international development organizations.

Where as the rest of the world has recognized this and taken effective action to move the needle on meaningful diversity, these institutions may still be stuck in their post WWII paradigms.

Now that’s not just unfortunate, it’s stalling client countries’ development.

SOME SOURCES
“Jim Yong Kim steps down as President of World Bank”. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46787840. Retrieved February 1, 2019.

“World Bank Group Leadership”. http://www.worldbank.org/en/about/leadership/managers. February 1, 2019.

“Senior Officials of the International Monetary Fund”. https://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/memdir/officers.htm. Retrieved February 1, 2019.

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