The new managing director of the International Monetary (IMF) Fund met with reporters at the organization's Washington, DC headquarters this morning.
Christine Lagarde said she would focus on employment issues even more than budget deficits during her tenure. She also promised to diversify the staff and make the institution more responsive to developing countries, telling the media "the value of diversity is top on my list of priorities...it's not just gender diversity, it's about culture, it's about academic background."
Ms. Lagarde was chosen late last month to lead the IMF after the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was facing sexual assault charges in New York.
She was France's first female Finance Minister and the first woman to run the IMF. Previously, she served as the French Trade Minister and Agriculture Minister; prior to that she spent part of her career in the U.S. as a corporate attorney.
According to a Reuters report, Lagarde's contract with the IMF holds her to "highest standards of ethical conduct consistent with the (IMF's) values of integrity, impartiality and discretion," language that was not in place under her predecessors. It also requires her to avoid "even the appearance of impropriety." She will earn $467,940 a year, net of income taxes, plus an allowance of $84,000, according to her contract.
The organization's website says the IMF "promotes international monetary cooperation and exchange rate stability, facilitates the balanced growth of international trade, and provides resources to help members in balance of payments difficulties or to assist with poverty reduction."
The IMF was created in 1945 after World War II, as an attempt to avoid the financial policies that led to the Great Depression. The organization currently has 187 member countries. It is a specialized agency of the United Nations but has its own charter, governing structure, and finances.