Jim Yong Kim confirmed as World Bank chief for another five years

29 Sep 16

The World Bank’s board has unanimously reappointed incumbent president Jim Yong Kim for a second five year term, despite vocal objections from staff and international demand for a non-American candidate.


The bank announced on Tuesday that Kim, who has led the bank since 2012, will continue in the role until 2022.

In its statement, the World Bank said the board praised the financial innovations, efficiency gains and record lending achieved under Kim’s leadership, as well as his efforts to shift the focus of the bank, make partnerships with the private sector and increase staff diversity.

Comments praising Kim’s efforts of diversity may seem ironic to those that contested a second term of his leadership. Both the influential World Bank staff association and international observers had criticised the fact that the bank has only ever been headed by a US male.

But despite staff voicing their concerns in a damning open letter and calling on board members to foster a more international outlook in this year’s leadership contest, the bank refused to overhaul the process and Kim was the only candidate nominated.

His re-appointment was widely expected after he won the backing of US president Barack Obama. While support from other countries including Brazil and China also played a part, America has long had the most influence over the bank’s leadership.

In their letter, staff criticised the fact that the bank champions diversity and transparency in its work while subscribing to outdated traditions in its own leadership contest, which is conducted behind closed doors. 

While the board praised Kim’s cost cutting strategies, which saved the bank $400m worth of administrative costs, his efforts did not bode as well with staff.

The process, which saw many lose their jobs, fostered animosity between the thousands of bank staff and their leader, which has lingered throughout Kim’s first term.

In the association’s letter, staff described a “crisis of leadership”, reflected in poor results of staff surveys over the past two years.

“Only one in three understand where the senior management team is leading us,” the letter reported. “Even fewer believe that our senior management creates a culture of openness and trust.”

But this week, the bank’s board praised Kim’s “vision and leadership”. In particular they referenced his setting of two new ambitious goals for the bank – to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to promote shared prosperity – his focus on climate change, and emphasis on partnerships.

Going forward, the statement said Kim’s highest priority is “institutional stability and deeper staff engagement”. In the longer term, the bank will focus on promoting economic, investing in human capital and protecting the global economy from risks that threaten to undermine progress.

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