Trump's Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin is white, male, and rich. So are almost all of his top people.
Under Secretary Stephen Mnuchin, Trump's Treasury Department is almost entirely white, male, and rich. It's a problem that plagues much of Trump's administration.
Mnuchin has a senior staff of roughly 20 with whom he regularly meets. According to Politico, only three of those people are women, and only one is a person of color. And it isn't just a problem with senior staff. Minority hiring in the Treasury Department plummeted to a five-year low in 2018. Perhaps worse, "the number of women and minorities leaving the agency outpaced their hiring," Politico said.
This poses a problem for obvious reasons: Federal agencies, to be both fair and functional, should reflect the country they serve. But there's another problem created by a homogenous workforce: a distinct lack of disagreement. When you don't have a variety of people at the table, one administration official pointed out, you make policy debates "less robust" and can make Treasury feel "disconnected from reality."
Mnuchin is the poster boy for being disconnected from reality. He treats taxpayer-funded government resources as his own, thinking nothing of taking a government jet to flit off to Fort Knox so he and his wife could watch a solar eclipse on the roof. He thought posing with a giant sheet of money was a great look, and when called out on it, said that he took it as a compliment to be seen as a "villain in a great, successful James Bond movie."
Under Trump, the overall Treasury workforce has fewer women, though not drastically so. Under Obama, 48% of the Treasury workforce was women, while under Trump it is at 44%. But it is in the upper echelons where things have gotten drastically less diverse. Right now, only three women in Treasury are in Senate-confirmed top roles. Under Obama, there were nine women in those roles in 2011 and seven in 2015.
Politico spoke with more than a dozen current and former administration and Treasury officials, and they described a "Mad Men-esque" workplace where Mnuchin "tends to surround himself with an all-male posse." Mnuchin didn't even seem to know the name of the woman that runs Treasury's mandated Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.
This isn't limited to the Treasury Department. Trump's judicial nominees, for example, are overwhelmingly white and male. A total of 92% of his confirmed district court judges are white and 74% of them are male. Across the entire Cabinet, Trump has named twice as many men as women to high-level positions.
As one former administration official put it: "When you do not have diversity at an agency in terms of gender, race, ethnicity and financial perspective and those are the people driving our policy, that is f---ing frightening." Indeed it is.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.