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Joint Center Commends the U.S. House for Releasing Detailed Racial Data on Top Staffers

September 27, 2019
Contact: press@jointcenter.org

Joint Center Commends the U.S. House for Releasing Detailed Racial Data on Top Staffers

The U.S. House released an extensive Compensation and Diversity Study after the Joint Center’s research recommended that the U.S. House track and disclose staff diversity data.

WASHINGTON — The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends the U.S. House for releasing the most comprehensive report on racial data among staff in Congress.

On Sept. 26, the U.S. House released its study on compensation and diversity based on findings from a web-survey completed by 51 percent (5,290) of U.S. House staffers. (The survey was initially sent to all 10,356 House staffers). Unlike the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative’s annual demographic data, the U.S. House’s study provides detailed racial and gender data on top staff positions, compensation, and more. However, further disaggregation by individual House Member and committee offices (as the Senate Democrats do) would provide additional transparency.

The Joint Center’s initial analysis of the recently released House data found that African Americans and Latinos are underrepresented in key roles such as chief of staff/deputy chief of staff, legislative director/deputy legislative director, and communications director/press secretary. For example, while African Americans are 12.3 percent of the U.S. population, in the U.S. House they are only 8.9 percent of chiefs of staff/deputy chiefs of staff, 9.2 percent of legislative directors/deputy legislative directors, and 7.3 percent of communications directors/press secretaries. Similarly, while Latinos are 18.3 percent of the U.S. population, in the U.S. House they are only 7.1 percent of chiefs of staff/deputy chiefs of staff, 8.3 percent of the legislative directors/deputy legislative directors, and 11.4 percent of the communications directors/press secretaries.

“We are glad to see that the U.S. House—under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Diversity Initiative Director Kemba Hendrix—has taken an important step in disclosing the racial and ethnic makeup of its staff. Moreover, the U.S. House has released more data than we’ve seen before,” said Joint Center Diversity & Inclusion Senior Fellow Dr. LaShonda Brenson. “Releasing this data is important because we can’t fix problems that remain hidden, and the release of the data conveys the message that Congress is working toward ensuring that all Americans will be accurately represented among the staff of House Members they elect to office. After looking at the data, we know Congress still has work to do in hiring African Americans and Latinos in key roles. We look forward to the launch of the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion and applaud Speaker Pelosi for facilitating the release of this major study. In the future, we hope to see the U.S. House and Senate release more robust disaggregated data on its staff.”

The Compensation and Diversity Study is the most comprehensive report from the U.S. House on race, gender, and compensation. The report comes after the Joint Center recommended that the House collect and disclose detailed demographic data in our 2018 report, Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff. Other Joint Center recommendations, such as the creation of an Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the incorporation of the “Rooney Rule,” have been adopted by the U.S. House and Democratic Caucus, respectively.

Read the Joint Center’s initial analysis here. We will provide more analysis on the study in the near future.