A Year in Review Since “An Open Letter to Economic Institutions in the Face of #BlackLivesMatter”

Addressed to our Allies in the Economics Community

It’s been one year, and a few weeks since the Sadie Collective original Open Letter was published, sparking and adding to public discourse about the role of economic institutions in addressing racism and inequities. This letter, a response to the original, intends to provide updates since the initial letter, and to provoke conversation about how economics can be used as a tool to serve the underserved. Our previous letter was recognized by Pitchfork Economics, NPR, Marketplace, and reshared by leading policy think tanks, such as Economic Policy Institute and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

To the economics community,

This time last year, we shared our reflections about the role of systemic racism in informing the hurt and pain that Black people feel when working within non-responsive, predominantly white institutions. Today for some, the lifestyle of double consciousness has decreased slightly, but for the vast majority, the status quo remains the same.

In last year’s letter, we asked that leading economic institutions commit to becoming anti-racist in ways that are outlined here.

With economic institutions, a shift has been made, one that is noticeable and appreciated by our community. In this letter, outlining one year since the original Open Letter, we want to acknowledge those changes and how the Sadie Collective is even better positioned to help organizations and economic institutions make those shifts. To be clear, the work is not complete, and this is the beginning of shifting economics for the better of everyone.

  1. A request for increased funding for Howard University’s economics department. WISER and Howard University Economics PhD Program, the only HBCU to offer such a program, were awarded 1.9 million in funding and home to the American Economics Association Summer Program for the next four years.
  2. Commit to multi-year financial and strategic partnerships with organizations and journals dedicated to advancing the representation of Black people in economics. The Sadie Collective has proud partners including, but not limited to 100 Women in Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs Foundation, and JP Morgan. Supporting a women of color led organization serving women of color is rare. Our partners are keenly shifting through their partnership with the Sadie Collective.
  3. Every university must commit to establishing an undergraduate program, inclusive of targeted outreach to Black students, which provides students with access to tutors and resources for quantitatively demanding courses, research opportunities, doctoral students and professor talks. The newly established PreDoc Consortium is taking the necessary steps towards the right direction alongside established initiatives such as the PADE Program (UMD) and Sloan Fellows (UMBC).
  4. Each Federal Reserve Bank must publicly commit to recruiting and hiring research assistants from at least five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the nation, and the Sadie Collective membership, annually. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago is partnering with the Sadie Collective to hire Sadie Collective Fellows and host our second annual conference.
  5. Furthermore, each Bank must develop and publish publicly a robust diversity and inclusion plan that disaggregates the data with respect to race and gender while adequately addressing the dearth of Black/African-American representation within the Federal Reserve System. Under the Biden Administration, we are now seeing a large concerted effort towards disaggregating data, a precedent that can be used to assess progress within federal institutions’ workforce and Board composition.
  6. The Federal Reserve System, whose 406 economists include only one Black woman (2019), must commit to interviewing, hiring, and training qualified Black doctoral candidates through a Visiting Scholars Program. Recently, economist Claudia Sahm found that there are no longer any Black women economists in D.C. Additionally, no Black woman and only three Black men have been appointed to govern the Federal Reserve System since it was established in 1913. All while a vacant seat of 22 years remains empty. This catastrophe suggests an inverse relationship between the Black unemployment rate, which remains one of the highest of all disaggregated analyses of unemployment in the Department of Labor’s monthly jobs report.
  7. Establish an equitable and inclusive environment for Black economists at your institution through access to mental health services, funding professional and academic development resources for Black faculty and economists (e.g. DITE), and access to economics research networks that determine professional outcomes (e.g. NBER, IZA, BREAD). Hiring diverse economists is not enough, especially when 33% of Black economists report feeling like they have been discriminated against within the field (AEA Climate Survey: Table 2B) and 58% of Black women report experiencing gender or racial discrimination. Cultivating an inclusive and empowering environment to keep them is where longstanding, structural change occurs. The Federal Reserve Board has subscribed to the Journal for Black Political Economy. Here’s a question to ponder on: Has your institution done so to ensure diversity of thought in who is sourced and cited for your work?
  8. Incorporate schools of economic thought that are designed to grapple with the current moment into undergraduate and graduate curricula.

The progress noted above is great, but by no means suggests that this problem is solved. This is the beginning of a longer journey towards justice for economists who’ve been underserved and for those who are coming from marginalized identities in the discipline. Some areas for consideration for organizations looking to democratize economics education access like us to redistribute power are:

  • To create equitable access to economics programs, scholarship programs are a clear means for lessening the barrier to entry. Funding for Masters and PhD programs are essential so that youth can choose the profession. This is a proven methodology.
  • Support more HBCUs, outside of the top five, and MSI (Minority Serving Institutions). There are plenty of other HBCUs that deserve support to cultivate the workforce we need in economic research and policy.
  • Support your Black and underrepresented students and expose them to organizations like the Sadie Collective, Research in Color and the Econ Games which make economics more accessible and exciting.

We are glad to see the progress is being made, but emphasize that one year of work is not enough. The Sadie Collective is eager to help organizations work to better support marginalized and underserved populations and help them flourish in the field. We are excited to share the following ways organizations can engage with us to see through a vision for improved outcomes:

Opt into the Sadie Collective Membership Portal as a Black woman or recruiter on August 4. Learn more here.

Benefits include:

  • Access to our expanding network of partners and members
  • Attending or hosting webinars
  • Posting or applying to job opportunities
  • Private and public groups for our members to interact with each other
  • Viewing updates and announcements from the Sadie Collective team
  • Resources aimed at furthering student’s and professional’s knowledge of many areas in economics
  • Establishing mentorship

Join the Sadie Summit: A four-month-long experience for freshman and sophomore women where select scholars are matched with a mentor in the field and participate in various workshops and activities to develop both their technical toolkit and professional skills. The program culminates with the two-day summit where scholars will participate in a case competition, attend panel discussions, network, and tour important financial institutions in the area.

Take advantage of our consulting practice: We support economic institutions that are interested in improving their pathway to leadership for Black women and other marginalized identities with consulting support. Additionally, we have a team of researchers who are prepared to assist with projects centering intersectional approaches to research.

Partner with the Sadie Collective:

  • Host a webinar/seminar about Graduate School/Predocs/Summer Research
  • Recruit at two annual career fairs in September and February
  • Attend annual Sadie T.M. Alexander conference
  • Join the Sadie Collective Membership Portal for access to resource sharing of information, exclusive events for members of our community, a job board, and access to resume bank

Information about our partnerships can be found here.

Sponsor the Sadie Collective annual conference: Check out sponsorship tiers on our website here.

Mentor for the Sadie Collective annual Research Scholar Program: Our two research receptions in November 2021 and February 2021, require research support that aligns with our research scholars. Might be interested? Join our community here to be kept abreast of mentorship opportunities.

Finally, be sure to check out and support the following similar organizations:

While progress has been made, there is much change left to be made, and the Sadie Collective is in it for the long haul.

Addressing the pipeline and pathway for Black women in economics & related fields.