Despite many Black students progressing with economics into further education, those of African and Afro-Caribbean descent remain significantly underrepresented in the field. Find out how The Black Economists Network is striving for change.
By Jerry Holliday
The world of economics is far from diverse, and Black economists are particularly underrepresented in senior roles within banks, boardrooms and think tanks. This issue not only affects Black minority communities but also permeates economic research, industry decision-making, and policy decisions.
The Black Economists Network (TBEN) was formed to raise the profile of Black people in economics by supporting the development of aspiring and current professionals in the field. It’s a platform for Black African and Caribbean professionals and students to connect, collaborate and share ideas.
TBEN founder Felicia Odamtten says, ‘TBEN is an organisation that seeks to raise the profile of and bring together people of African and Afro-Caribbean descent in economics whilst challenging the lack of diversity in the field.’
Collaborations and partnerships
TBEN actively collaborates with prominent institutions such as the Bank of England, offering its members unique opportunities to gain real-world insights into economists’ roles in monetary analysis and financial stability strategy.
These engagements come to life through webinars and workshops, enriching the experiences of TBEN’s members and promoting diversity in economic institutions.
TBEN has also formed strategic partnerships with Frontier Economics, one of Europe’s largest economics consultancies, as well as organisations such as The Government Economic Service (GES), the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and The Royal Economic Society, all of which play pivotal roles in the economic landscape.
These partnerships allow TBEN to advocate for diversity, inclusivity, and equitable representation in economics.
Nurturing future talent: mentorship programmes
TBEN recently concluded its highly successful 2023 mentorship program to empower its members in skill development, career guidance, personal growth, and overcoming challenges.
Greg Thwaites, a previous mentor with the programme stated, ‘I would strongly recommend this mentoring scheme as a low-cost yet impactful way to address, albeit on a small but meaningful scale, some of the profound disparities within the economics community.’
Serving as a beacon of hope for change in economics, TBEN aspires to not only elevate the status of Black economists but also contribute to more equitable economic research, industry decisions, and policy formulation in the future.
Crystal Byrd Ogbadu from The Black Economists Network on how they are challenging the lack of diversity in the sector.