Hill Diversity

Racial Diversity Among Senate Committee Top Staff

Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released Racial Diversity Among Senate Committee Top Staff.

This report provides evidence regarding the lack of racial diversity among U.S. Senate committee office top staff positions. This report defines committee office top staff as all staff director, deputy staff director, chief counsel, general counsel, and policy director positions in Senate committee offices. The data reflect Senate employment as of June 7, 2021.

Key findings show:

  • People of color make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 7.9 percent of Senate staff directors identify as people of color. Latina/os are 18.4 percent of the U.S. population but only 2.6 percent of Senate committee staff directors. African Americans account for 12.4 percent of the U.S. population but only 2.6 percent of Senate staff directors. Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are 5.6 percent of the U.S. population, but there are currently no Asian American/Pacific Islander Senate committee staff directors. Biracial Americans are 2.5 percent of the U.S. population, but there are currently no Biracial Senate committee staff directors. Native Americans are 0.7 percent of the U.S. population and 2.6 percent of Senate committee staff directors. Middle Eastern/North Africans are 0.6 percent of the U.S. population, but there are currently no Middle Eastern/North African committee staff directors. Since our 2015 report, the overall percentage of Senate staff directors of color increased from 7.7 to 7.9 percent.
  • Among Senate committee top staff positions outside of staff director (e.g., deputy staff director, general counsel, chief counsel, and policy director), only 15.7 percent identify as people of color. Of these other Senate committee top staff, only 3.6 percent are Latina/o, 2.4 percent are African American, 4.8 percent are Asian American/Pacific Islander, 1.2 percent are Biracial, 1.2 percent are Native American, and 2.4 percent are Middle Eastern/North African.
  • People of color are underrepresented among both Democratic and Republican Senate committee top staff. Although people of color make up 37.9 percent of Democratic voters nationally, they account for only 11.1 percent of Democratic Senate staff directors and 20 percent of other Democratic full committee top staff. And while people of color account for 29.6 percent of Republican voters nationally, they account for only 5.3 percent of Republican Senate staff directors and 11.6 percent of other Republican full committee top staff.