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Senators Hirono, Luján & Warnock Have Most Diverse Staff; Over 27 Percent of Senate Democratic Committee Offices Have No Black Staff

Joint Center Ranks Senators Based on 2021 Senate Democratic Diversity Data

WASHINGTON — The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies commends Senate Democrats for releasing their fifth annual survey on racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual orientation/gender identity diversity of their staff. To date, Senate Republican offices have not released staff demographic data.

Our analysis includes over 20 graphics detailing the rankings of the top three personal and committee offices with racially diverse staff, and shows the personal offices with the most Black, Latina/o, Asian American/Pacific Islander, and women staff. The Joint Center also ranked the three least racially diverse personal and committee offices.

Of the 44 Democratic Senate personal offices, 24 reported an increase in the number of staff who identify as non-White, 17 reported a decrease, and 3 remained unchanged. Of the 24 Senate Democratic personal offices who observed an increase, only half observed an increase of more than 5 percentage points. (Democratic Senators Hickenlooper (CO), Kelly (AZ), Luján (NM), Ossoff (GA), Padilla (CA), and Warnock (GA) are not included in this part of the analysis since they were elected/appointed in 2020).

See below for four charts, and click here for the full analysis by Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson.

Top Three Racially Diverse Staff in Personal Offices

Senators Up By More Than 5 Points from 2020 in Racial Diversity

Senators With Greatest Gap Between Black Staff and Black State Population (2019 Census Estimates)

Committee Offices with Lowest Percentage of Black Staff

“It’s encouraging to see Senate Democrats continue to show transparency in disclosing the percentage of top staff of color in their offices and the increase of staff diversity in 24 offices. However, more work needs to be done,” said Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson. “While I applaud Senators Hirono, Luján, and Warnock for having 70 percent or more people of color in their staff, there is still much more room for growth among other Senators who have retained fewer people of color on their staff since last year. This is also especially true for a number of Senate committees. Senate Democrats should also disaggregate its data to show how many top positions are held by people of color. We applaud the Senate Democrats’ leadership on staff diversity, and look forward to working with them more on this issue.”

The Joint Center will release a detailed analysis and data disaggregated by race, position, and party affiliation soon in Dr. Brenson’s forthcoming report Racial Diversity Among Senate Committee Top Staff. In that report, Dr. Brenson will reveal the percentage of top committee staffers by race/ethnicity and political party. Sign up for our newsletter here to be among the first to know when the report is released.

Background

Since 2015, the Joint Center’s congressional staff diversity program has researched and disseminated information on the importance of having a diverse congressional staff. Our findings can be found in our following reports: Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff (2015), Racial Diversity Among Top House Staff (2018), and Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices (2020).

Congress has since taken essential steps to improve transparency and staff diversity. For the past four years, Senate Democrats led both chambers by releasing racial/ethnic data about the staff in Democratic Senators’ personal and committee offices. Senate Democrats, however, have not disclosed the diversity of top staff.

Senators should work together and follow the lead of the U.S. House of Representatives by establishing an Office of Diversity and Inclusion that develops a diversity plan and helps Senate offices in recruiting, hiring, training, promoting, and retaining a diverse Senate staff. Earlier this year, the Joint Center organized a letter signed by over 35 civil rights groups addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) urging his office to establish a bipartisan Senate Diversity and Inclusion Office.

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