Pelosi Launches Diversity Initiative

Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:24pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday the launch of a diversity initiative aimed at increasing the recruitment and retention of minorities in the House.

“With this new diversity initiative, we not only live up to the basic American ideal of equal opportunity for all, but we strengthen the quality of our workforce,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We invite all House Members and offices, from both sides of the aisle, to take advantage of this new vital resource that will enrich our institution.”

House officials have been working on developing an initiative for years, but the effort seemed to gain traction after a survey earlier this year revealed the lack of diversity among House staffers. The House Compensation Study showed that little progress had been made in the past six years; in 2009, for example, 87 percent of chiefs of staff were white, compared with 89.5 percent in 2003.

The House’s new initiative will include diversity training and a résumé bank to target “diverse candidates,” according to Tuesday’s press release. The House Administration Committee will coordinate the effort, with the help of an advisory council that will include members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the House Chiefs of Staff Association.

Democratic Reps. Mike Honda (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.) — chairmen of the CAPAC, CBC and CHC, respectively — called the initiative an “important first step.”

“We look forward to working with House Leadership and the Committee on House Administration as well as our Members as this initiative grows,” they said in a joint statement, “recognizing that much remains to be done to ensure that the staff of the House of Representatives reflects the rich diversity of our nation.”

The Democratic Caucus and the Republican Conference will also be involved as part of a new Legislative Branch Diversity Working Group. And Pelosi plans to hold legislative branch agencies similarly responsible for employee diversity. The Office of the Clerk, Chief Administrative Officer, Inspector General, Sergeant-at-Arms and Acting Architect of the Capitol will all be required to develop reports “outlining the current state of diversity within their organizations, inclusive of current staffing levels and existing diversity programs,” according to the release.