Nation’s Treasury Department Is Said to Be a Bastion of White Male Privilege

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifying before a House committee in May 2019.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifying before a House committee in May 2019.
Photo: Mark Wilson (Getty Images)

The Trump administration is well known to be well-stocked in rich, white males, but it turns out the Treasury Department, headed by Steve Mnuchin—himself a rich, white male—may be the richest, whitest and most male of them all.


According to Politico, over the last two years, there have been “deepening tensions [...] over the diversity of the top staff”:

Out of roughly 20 officials who routinely attend senior staff meetings led by Mnuchin, only three are women and one is a person of color. In fiscal year 2018, the hiring of minorities at Treasury fell to its lowest pace in five years, according to the department’s own statistics, while the number of women and minorities leaving the agency outpaced their hiring.

Thus, the top decision-makers at a department that helps shape policies on money matters like taxes, financial rules and the economy, in general, are overwhelmingly white, male and wealthy.

It’s a scary situation, one ex-administration official told Politico, saying frankly:

“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 fucking frightening.”

Frightening indeed, as a lack of diversity also means a lack of insight into how “the other half” really lives in this country and how they could be impacted by one policy or another.

Treasury admits it has a problem, but tells Politico it’s a reflection of the overwhelmingly white and male financial sectors from which Treasury pulls its leadership.


But random work photos cropping up on social media out of Treasury, showing all or predominantly white men, give visual proof of the diversity issue. Decisions by Mnuchin to do things like delay the placement of freedom fighter Harriet Tubman’s picture on the $20 bill further the narrative, Politico reports, noting:

A Mad Men-esque reputation has followed Treasury officials throughout their day-to-day schedules, especially since Mnuchin tends to surround himself with an all-male posse. When President Donald Trump announced Jerome Powell as his next Federal Reserve chair in a Rose Garden ceremony in November 2017, for instance, a handful of white male Treasury officials attended and sat together side-by-side in the White House’s gold-painted chairs.


A number of Treasury staffers are expected to leave for jobs in the private sector, opening positions and giving Treasury the chance to diversify the ranksan opportunity Politico sources seemed to think would likely be overlooked.

Which is indeed a shame.

“Our government is a public asset,” Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, told Politico. “It is the tool we have to solve our biggest problems with taxpayer money, and how it looks to the American public has consequences.”



Diversity problem? What diversity problem?