Joint Center News: May 31, 2018

In May we engaged on future of work projects with Congressman Bobby Scott, the National Urban League, the National Organization of Black County Officials, and others. Read the details below!

Black Unemployment – April:
•  Overall: 6.6% (down .3)
•  Women 20+: 5.1% (down .9)
•  Men 20+: 6.4% (up .3)
•  Both sexes, 16-19: 29% (up 1.1)
 African Americans in Congress
•  Members of U.S. Senate: 3 (3%)
•  Members of U.S. House: 47 (10.7%) (including non-voting Members)
• Top U.S. Senate Staff in DC: 7 (2%)


National Urban League’s 2018 State of Black America Features Joint Center Essay: President Spencer Overton wrote that policy decisions made now will determine whether automation leads to more or less racial inequality in the future. Read more here.

Joint Center Hosts Future of Work in Retail Event on the Hill: On May 8, the Joint Center hosted a Future of Work Member Roundtable focused on the retail industry in conjunction with Congressman Bobby Scott (VA), the Ranking Member of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Spencer moderated the discussion, which brought together experts from private industry, labor, and the think tank community. Read more here.

Joint Center Talks Future of Work at Black County Officials Economic Development Conference: During the National Organization of Black County Officials’ Annual Economic Development Conference, Spencer and other panelists discussed 21st Century challenges and workforce opportunities for Black communities. Read more here.

Joint Center Discusses the Future of Work at Emerging Tech DC: On May 7, the Joint Center spoke at Public Knowledge’s Emerging Tech DC future of work panel. Spencer discussed the impact that artificial intelligence may have on tomorrow ‘s workforce Read more here.

Joint Center Moderates Congressional Smart Cities Caucus Workforce Discussion: Spencer moderated a panel that included SkillSmart CEO and Co-Founder Mike Knapp, Center for Energy Workforce Development Executive Director Ana Randazzo, Executive Director Chris Hoffensberger, and Principal Century Engineering Vice President Bryan Haynie. The conversation covered issues related to education, skills, and the importance of public-private partnerships in workforce development. The bipartisan Smart Cities Caucus, co-chaired by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (NY) and Congressman Darrell Issa (CA), hosted the event. Click here for details and to watch a video of the panel.

Joint Center Seeks Expertise from Black Labor on Strategic Plan: On May 2, the Joint Center met with leaders from the A. Philip Randolph Institute, the AFL-CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) to discuss the Joint Center’s strategic plan.

Joint Center Travels to Silicon Valley and Oakland to talk Future of Work: On May 21 and 22, Spencer met with leaders from the Hewlett Foundation, PolicyLink, U.C. Berkeley Labor Center, RevUp, and LendUp to discuss the future of Black workers. Spencer also participated in a conference on state-based leadership development programs.

Robots at Work May Mean More Creative Jobs for People reports the Wall Street Journal.
How the Future of Work Will Impact H.R.: Human Resources reports that artificial intelligence and increasing digitization will force human resource departments to re-evaluate their mindsets.

Does Customer Prejudice Explain the Employment Gap Between Blacks and whites? Sorbonne University researcher Morgane Laouenan explores whether taste-based discrimination by customers explains the persistent employment gap between white and Black Americans. Read the piece in Harvard Business Review.

UMBC President Hrabowski’s Meyerhoff Scholars Program: In 1988, University of Maryland, Baltimore County President Freeman Hrabowski created the Meyerhoff Scholars Program that has helped graduate more than 1,100 mostly Black students in science and engineering. The program graduates more Black students who go on to earn dual M.D.-Ph.D.’s than any other school in the country. Dr. Hrabowski’s success prompts us to ask, “Why can’t we do the same thing with skills of the future in Baltimore, Detroit, Gary, Inglewood, the rural South’s Black Belt, and other Black communities across the U.S.?” Read more in the Baltimore Sun. (Image Credit: New York Times)


Joint Center Supports National Bar Association Hill Day:On May 9, the National Bar Association held its annual Hill Day with nearly 100 prominent Black attorneys from across the nation.Using a Joint Center fact sheet, NBA members talked to their U.S. Senators and staff on congressional staff diversity.

Joint Center Speaks with Philadelphia Community Leaders: On May 16, Joint Center Black Talent Initiative Director Don Bell headlined a breakfast with Philadelphia community leaders and an afternoon meeting of students to discuss the Joint Center’s efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in government. Don also met with Deborah Mahler, the Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, to discuss efforts to increase staff diversity in DC and Philadelphia and opportunities for collaboration. Read about his experience here.

DNC Announces Increase in Staff Diversity: NBC recently obtained a report in which the Democratic National Committee announced the results of its diversity efforts. Overall, people of color now represent over 44% of the DNC, with African Americans making up 30% of staff. Among DNC leadership, African American officers increased by 67%. The DNC previously announced it would start paying interns to reduce hiring disparities and overhaul their contracting process.

DCCC Makes Strides in Increasing Staff Diversity: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently announced that 38% of DCCC staff are people of color, up from 13% in 2016. The DCCC also reported that people of color make up 52% of its senior staff, up from 17% in 2016. Read more in Buzzfeed.

How Come Congressional Offices Don’t Disclose Diversity of Staff? On May 18, Roll Call reported that most House and Senate offices do not report the diversity of their staff because it is not required of them. Nearly all other federal government offices are required to report the ethnic diversity of their staff – including offices in the executive branch.

Amazon Hesitates in Adopting “Rooney Rule” for Board Selections: The Hill reported on May 11 that members of the House Tech Accountability Caucus were frustrated with the tech giant for refusing to adopt the “Rooney Rule” to help diversify its board’s racial diversity – all ten members are white. Following outrage, Amazon announced on May 14 that it would consider adopting the “Rooney Rule.” Professor Stefanie K. Johnson wrote in the Harvard Business Review that companies are often reluctant to change their board practices, even though research shows that CEOs who have increased the demographic diversity of their boards have reported higher profit margins. The CBC also sent a letter expressing concerns about Amazon’s new facial recognition software.

The Joint Center is seeking a Director of Workforce Development and a Workforce Development Policy Analyst to drive our future of work research and policy efforts. We are also looking for a Development Manager.

The Bipartisan Policy Center is seeking Summer Interns for 2018. If you’re interested in applying, please contact Julie Anderson at and/or Mike Vavala at

The Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL) at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights is seeking a racial equity research fellow. Apply here.

  • Passing of Tara Jones: On May 15, Joint Center friend Tara Jones was memorialized at Reid Temple AME Church. In addition to her work advising c-suite executives, Tara served as the Vice President of public affairs for BET Networks. Share your memories here.
    • Google Announces Bail Bond Reform: On Monday, May 7, Google announced it would prohibit ads for bail bond services, citing that for-profit bail bond providers disproportionately profit off of communities of color and low-income neighborhoods and engage in practices that can keep people in debt for years.
    • Intriguing Podcasts in MayWashingTech Host Joe Miller talked to AARP’s Senior Advisor and National LGBT Liaison Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey on reducing isolation for LGBT adults, Reach Mama President Karina Cabera Bell on legislation to empower moms in the workplace, and Brookings Tech Director Darrell West on the future of work.
    • Big May for Opportunity@Work: Thirteen “Learn and Earn” students, a diverse and talented group, graduated from General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive and are now ready to work as software developers. Read more here. On May 9, Opportunity@Work CEO and co-founder Byron Auguste participated in the closing panel of the NewSchools Summit in Burlingame, California, where he explained how they are helping employers use skills assessments to more effectively screen individuals for job opportunities in the tech field. The panel is recapped here with video highlights here.
    • May Think Tank RoundupBrookings Fellow Nicol Turner-Lee on why #LivingWhileBlack matters…Brookings Fellow Andre M. Perry on fighting school segregation to reform education…CBPP’s Peggy Bailey on housing funding for those with substance use disorders…Demos’s Algernon Austin on state policies that facilitate equality…EPI’s Valerie Wilson on the low wages of Black workers in “right-to-work” states…EPI’s Janelle Jones compares Black/white unemployment rates by states.
    Google and Facebook Update Privacy Policies: In May, both tech companies announced updates to their privacy policies in compliance with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation, which limits how companies can collect, secure, and use consumer information. See Mashable and Wired.

On June 4, the Black Women’s Congressional Alliance will host an Empower Hour for women of color on Capitol Hill. The event will feature a panel of four former Black women Chiefs of Staff on successfully transitioning off the Hill: Tasha Cole, Chanelle Hardy, Patrice Willoughby, and Nicole Venable. Details here.
The Wilson Center will host a book event on Andrew Selee’s new book on the U.S.-Mexico relationship, Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together, on June 5. Details here.
The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit is June 6-9 in Charlotte, NC.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is hosting its annual conference June 8-11 in Boston. Newly inaugurated USCM president and Joint Center friend Steve Benjamin (mayor of Columbia, SC) will preside.
The National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women will host its annual legislative conference June 28-July 1 in Birmingham, AL.