Hill Diversity

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Joint Center Commends Senate Democrats for Releasing 2020 Staff Diversity Data, Urges More Detailed Disclosure 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2020
Contact: press@jointcenter.org

WASHINGTON — The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends Senate Democrats for releasing their fourth annual survey on racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation diversity of their staff. To date, Senate Republican offices have not released staff demographic data.

Later today, Joint Center Diversity & Inclusion Senior Fellow Dr. LaShonda Brenson will release an initial analysis on the results from the latest Democratic survey. The Joint Center will also release a more comprehensive report on racial diversity among top staff in Democratic and Republican Senate personal offices soon.

“Among both chambers and parties, Senate Democrats have been leaders in collecting and releasing racial and ethnic data among their staff,” said Dr. Brenson. “Senate Democrats’ willingness to publish this data is a critical first step toward acknowledging and addressing challenges in diversity among congressional staff. We commend Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and the rest of the Senate Democrats for their leadership on Capitol Hill in releasing staff diversity data.”

“More work needs to be done, however,” continued Dr. Brenson. “We continue to urge Senate Democrats to release data disaggregated by position and office location so their constituents can better understand the true landscape of diversity on the Hill. For example, while it is encouraging to see so many Senators who have staffs that appear to reflect the diversity of their states, data disclosed by position could reveal that some offices concentrate staffers of color in lower-level positions, while a lack of diversity persists in top-level positions like chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors. Data disaggregated by office location could show that a Member seems to emphasize diversity in state offices where it is more visible to constituents, but discount diversity in Washington, DC. As always, the Joint Center urges all Senators to hire staff that reflect the diversity of America.”

Background

A 2015 Joint Center report, Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff, found people of color accounted for only 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers, and African Americans accounted for less than 1 percent of these top staffers. In March 2017, Democratic Senators adopted a set of rules to diversify overwhelmingly White offices. Offices promised to: 1) engage with the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative to identify candidates; 2) engage with congressional staff associations and other groups to attract diverse resumes, and 3) interview diverse applicants. Since 2017, the Senate Democrats have released a diversity report every year. Our analysis from 2018 can be found here, and 2019 can be found here. The Joint Center’s 2018 report Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff is here.

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About Joint Center

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1970 and based in Washington, DC. The Joint Center's mission is to inform and illuminate the nation's major public policy debates through research, analysis, and information dissemination in order to improve the socioeconomic status of Black communities in the United States; expand their effective participation in the political and public policy arenas; and promote communication and relationships across racial and ethnic lines to strengthen the nation's pluralistic society.