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.