Nemat Shafik, who took over as IMF Deputy Managing Director in April, says she has been surprised by the vigor of internal policy debate at the IMF. “From the outside looking in, you have the impression that the IMF is a monolith with a very single-minded view of the world. When you are inside the Fund, what is really striking is how active the internal debate is,” she says.
At a time when the global economy is being buffeted by continued uncertainty in Europe, uprisings in the Middle East, and signs of overheating in some emerging market economies, there’s a lot to discuss. And, in addition to global economic problems, the IMF’s work environment has come under increased scrutiny, in particular how women are treated and its professional code of conduct.
In an interview, Ms. Shafik discusses some of these issues, including what is being done to promote diversity.
While progress has been made on diversity of gender—and women at the IMF have spoken out against recent criticisms of the workplace—Shafik acknowledges the institution is a highly professional and respectful workplace, but could nonetheless do better. The IMF is committed to a new target of recruiting 50 percent women at all levels going forward. But the IMF also needs to look beyond nationality and gender to wider diversity issues of educational background, diversity of work experience, and perspective.
A wider variety of views within the institution can enrich the existing internal debate, and better help shape IMF policies and advice to the institution’s 187 member countries.