The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is calling on the new Congress to prioritize racial diversity in top staffing positions.
In a new campaign, the Joint Center, which calls itself “America’s Black think tank,” launched a new website that will track diversity trends of the top staff of every member of the new Congress. The website will provide a video of the importance of diversity and directives for how to solve the lack of representation in Capitol Hill offices.
“One key step to advance racial equity in our country is to ensure that members of Congress are advised by top staff who represent the diversity of our nation,” Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center, said in a statement.
“These critical staff roles influence lawmaking, a multi-trillion dollar budget process, and the Senate confirmation process, and provide oversight of the work done by over 4.2 million federal employees. The perspectives and decisions of top congressional staff shape the lives of everyday Americans — especially those from communities of color.”
The Joint Center’s campaign comes after an October report found only 18 percent of all top House staff are people of color. Only 11 percent of top staff in the Senate are people of color.
While Democratic offices are more diverse than Republican offices, pay disparities persist between white staffers and staff of color.
In addition to the new campaign, the Joint Center will also send a letter signed by nearly 70 organizations and diversity stakeholders to members of Congress, all of whom are also advocating for increased diversity in top and mid-level congressional staffers.
In a statement, LaShonda Brenson, a senior researcher at the Joint Center, said the current lack of diversity in congressional offices indicates that “key voices and perspectives are not being heard in rooms where major decisions are made.”
“Simply put, this is an issue afflicting the offices of Republicans and Democrats alike,” she added. “It’s time for members of Congress to show and prove that the experiences of the communities they represent are being considered in their work and decisions for the country.”
—Updated at 4:08 p.m.