Hill Diversity

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Joint Center Joins National Urban League Panel on Senate Diversity

On Thursday, January 5, 2017, the National Urban League Washington Bureau convened a panel luncheon entitled, “Increasing Racial Diversity in the Senate” at the Hart Senate Office Building. As former Vice President Joe Biden swore in Senators the previous Tuesday, it provided a critical context to discuss the issue of the lack of racial diversity among top Senate staff.

Will Searcy, Interim Director of the Black Talent Initiative, represented the Joint Center on the panel to highlight the findings of the Joint Center’s 2015 Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff report (click here for 31-page report). Our study revealed that although people of color compose 36% of the United States population, only 7.1% of top staffers are people of color.

When asked if the data of the report surprised the Joint Center, Will explained that “while the statistics on racial diversity among top Senate staffers were not surprising, it did not make them any less disappointing.” Will also emphasized the importance of staff diversity because top staffers “manage the Senate legislative agenda, shape the $3.8 trillion U.S. federal budget, provide oversight of all federal agencies, which collectively has over 4.1 million employees, and hire, manage, and dismiss Senate staff.”

Other panelists included Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus (SBLSC) President Don Bell, House Committee on Education and Workforce Communications Director Kiara Pesante, Senator Tim Scott’s Chief of Staff Jennifer DeCasper, and General Counsel of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Ami Sanchez. Click here to view our Senate Staff Diversity Fact Sheet.

Will has also participated on the STEM4US panel, and the IMPACT panel on Senate Staff Diversity.

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.