With House Democrats and Republicans selecting their leadership for the 116th Congress this week, the Joint Center Wednesday repeated its call for Leader Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, and all Members of Congress to take steps to diversify their top and key mid-level staff.
“With the election of Leader Pelosi as proposed Speaker of the House by the Democratic Caucus, we are now one step closer to identifying House leadership for the 116th Congress,” said Joint Center President Spencer Overton. “There is no better time to call on leadership in both parties and demand that critical steps be taken to ensure diversity among top and mid-level staff. Those elected to represent the people cannot do so effectively unless their top staffers also look like their constituents.”
Today, the Joint Center released this letter sent to Leader Pelosi on November 8. The letter recognized that as the House Democratic Caucus prepares to assume control of Congress, it will hire hundreds of new personal office and committee staffers. The letter requested that Leader Pelosi take several immediate steps in preparation for the 116th Congress, including:
- Fully staffing the existing House Democratic Diversity Initiative;
- Developing Democratic diversity goals for filling open positions over the next four months (when many positions will be filled), and;
- Assessing the staff diversity of Members when determining committee assignments.
The Joint Center’s letter also requested that Leader Pelosi lead efforts to annually publish demographic data on each staff position in each Member’s office (Senate Democrats currently disclose staff demographic data), require Members to interview at least one person of color for every top staff and key mid-level position opening (the “Rooney Rule”), and create a permanent Bipartisan House Diversity Initiative.
“As we end this Congress and turn the page to the next, this is the greatest opportunity the U.S. House will have to meaningfully change the face of House top level staff,” said Don Bell,Joint Center Black Talent Initiative director . “Many of our common-sense solutions can be adopted quickly, and would improve the hiring process so that top and key mid-level staffers of the U.S. House better reflect the diversity of America.”
In September, the Joint Center published a report finding that although people of color account for 38 percent of the U.S. population, they account for only 13.7 percent of the top staffers of the U.S. House of Representatives (161 out of 1174 top staffers).