Hill Diversity

Joint Center Op-Ed: After Georgia, Senators Must Prioritize Staff Diversity

Sources: CNN, NYT, Cook & Joint Center.*

After Black voters in Georgia enabled Democrats to control the Senate, Morning Consult published this commentary by Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson and Joint Center President Spencer Overton calling for the Senate to take key steps to prioritize hiring, developing, and promoting diverse top staff…

Their bottom line:

“People of color are woefully underrepresented among top Senate staff. Even though people of color make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, they are only 11 percent of Senate personal office top staff (chief of staff, legislative director or communications director).

This problem is particularly acute among Democrats. For example, Black Americans account for about 20 percent of Democratic voters nationally and about 50 percent of Georgia’s Democratic voters. However, Black Americans accounted for only 5 percent of Democratic U.S. Senate top staff in 2020. Of the 20 Democratic full committee staff directors, only one is Black.”

Brenson and Overton argue Senators should fix this problem by: 1) prioritizing diversity in hiring and promotion; 2) following the lead of the U.S. House and creating a Bipartisan Senate Diversity Office; and 3) eliminating the vestiges of excluding top staff of color by supporting strong candidates of color to chair agencies like the FTC and the FCC.

Read the full commentary in Morning Consult by clicking here.

To view the diversity report card tracking top staff of color hired by each newly-elected Senator, click here.

To understand the problem, why it matters, and solutions, click here.

To see the Joint Center’s research and activities on Hill staff diversity, click here.


*Sources: CNN.com (Georgia Senate Races Exit Poll Data); CNN.com  (2020 General Election Exit Poll Data), Cook Political Report; The New York Times; Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; and some figures were calculated by Joint Center staff using a combination of the aforementioned sources.