World Bank reforms must embrace racial equality and accountability | Chris Simms

From Global development | The Guardian Tue Nov 27 2012, 08:10:00

If Jim Yong Kim wants to 'bend the arc of history', he should start by addressing long-standing inequalities in his own organisation

At the World Bank IMF annual meeting in Tokyo this month, Jim Yong Kim promised to bring in an era of reformsaying: "While I'm excited by how much the bank has changed around openness and results and accountability, I believe the bank can go further."

One step in this direction would be for the bank to address racial inequalities in its staffing at the senior level and to become open and accountable about its progress towards this end.

At issue is the conspicuous under-representation of African-Americans at senior levels of the bank. In 1978 William Raspberry reported in the Washington Post that there were only three black Americans, out of 619 Americans working at the World Bank. Thirty years later (in a report titled "Racial discrimination at the World Bank: a review of the treatment of black employees in recruitment, retention and justice decisions" (pdf)) the Washington-based Government Accountability Project (Gap) reported that of more than 1,000 American World Bank staff of professional grade, four were African-Americans.

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