Report: Nearly Three Quarters of the House Have No Senior Staffers of Color

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released its diversity data on House staffers

Aides attend a news conference with Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman in Dirksen Building on Aug. 2. Almost three-quarters of House members have no top staffers of color, according to a new report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Almost three-quarters of House members —313 in all —have no top staffers of color, according to a report from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released on Tuesday.

“Top staff” refers to top staff chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in D.C. personal offices, chiefs of staff, policy directors and communications directors in the top four leadership offices of each party and staff directors assigned to full committees.

Just under 14 percent of all top House staff are people of color, according to the report, “Racial Diversity Among Top U.S. House Staff,” which relied on data that reflected the demographic makeup of staffers as of June 1. At that time, people of color accounted for 38 percent of the U.S. population.

A total of 329 House members are white. “Chiefs of staff of color” led the personal offices of only 16 of those, the report stated. Ten worked in Republican offices and six in Democratic offices.

For all top staff in offices of white Democratic members, the report found that less than 8 percent are people of color. For white Republican members, 3 percent of top staffers are people of color.

[Vulnerable Senate Democrats Have Another Thing to Worry About: Diversity on Their Staffs]

Among the report’s other findings:

  • No Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander, or Native American is a staff director for any of the 40 committee staff director positions in the House.
  • No Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander, or Native Americans holds any of the 24 top staff positions in the four leadership offices in the House.
  • Latinos make up less than 28 percent of Democratic  Congressional  Hispanic  Caucus  Members’ offices.
  • Latinos make up over 29 percent of Republican Congressional Hispanic Conference members’ offices.
  • Of the top staffers who are black, almost 61 percent are women.
  • Of the top Latino staffers, almost 45 percent are women.
  • Of the top Asian American/Pacific Islander, over 31 percent are women.
  • In the offices of members who are Asian American/Pacific Islander, over 77 percent of staffers are white.

[Congress Doesn’t Report Diversity Because It Doesn’t Have to]

To produce the report, authors attempted to determine staffers’ race based on photographs from LegiStorm, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Roll Call, constituent photographs, news clippings and press releases.

The center said they identified the race of about 93 percent of top staff and then met with members of the staff associations to confirm the data and to identify the 7 percent of staffers missing.  They also called and emailed each office of the 7 percent of staffers missing to get the data. 

The Joint Center is a nonprofit that creates ideas to improve the socioeconomic status and civic engagement of African Americans. There is no rule mandating that congressional offices have to provide data on the racial and ethnic makeup of its staff for the public record. Watch: Hire Many Interns and More Tips for Making the Capitol More Inclusive


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