The Joint Center released the following press release on its new tool to track newly-hired top staff in Congress.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 14, 2018
Joint Center Launches First-Of-Its-Kind Tool to Track Diversity of Top Staff Hired by Newly-Elected Members of Congress
WASHINGTON – Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies launched an innovative online resource to track the racial diversity of top staff hired by new Members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate (chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors).
The resource features interactive tables, which will allow users to organize the data by political party, state, Member name, the percentage of people of color in the state or congressional district, and other factors. The site also allows users to submit data about newly-hired top staffers.
“The newly-elected Members could collectively hire over 300 top staffers,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “Over the next month, these new Members have the opportunity to transform the population of top staff so that it more closely reflects the diversity of our nation. We know that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant,’ and this new tool allows constituents back home to track in real time whether newly-elected Members are bringing true change to Congress.”
Data on the tool show that the newly-elected House Members hired 10 chiefs of staff who are people of color and 26 white chiefs of staff. The newly-elected Senators have hired no top staff of color and three white chiefs of staff.
The newly-elected House Members represent districts that are, on average, over one-third people of color. The newly-elected Senators represent states that are, on average, almost 30 percent people of color.
“Now is the time to create a culture of diversity on Capitol Hill,” said Don Bell, Joint Center Black Talent Initiative Director. “Building diverse coalitions for electoral victories is not enough. If people of color are important enough for a candidate to request a vote, they are important enough to be represented in congressional staff. Members must make diversity and inclusion the centerpiece of their policy-making team and agenda.”
The Joint Center also launched a second set of interactive tables to track new top staff of color recently hired by returning Members to the U.S. House and U.S. Senate (the three positions mentioned above plus full committee staff directors). The tool shows that Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) recently hired a Latino chief of staff, and that nine returning Members of the House have recently hired top staffers of color.The Joint Center updates the data daily, and will continue to update data on a regular basis.
The Joint Center’s September report found that people of color account for 38 percent of the U.S. population, but only 13.7 percent of U.S. House top staff. An earlier report found people of color accounted for only 7.1 percent of U.S. Senate top staff.