June 24, 2024

Only 11 percent of Senate aides are POC, study finds


Diversity among top Senate staffers in Washington offices remains overwhelmingly white, which continues to receive scrutiny amid the Black Lives Matter movement and the COVID-19 crisis. 

While people of color make up 40 percent of the American population, only 11 percent of top staff in Senate offices represent this group, according to a new study conducted by LaShonda Brenson of the  Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, nonpartisan think tank. 

Brenson defines “top staff” in Senate offices of the chief of staff, legislative director and communications director. Overall, the report found only 3.1 percent of top staff positions are held by Blacks, 3.8 percent are Latinos and Asian American/Pacific Islanders makeup 2.7 percent, per the New York Times

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Seven senators reportedly have staff that are over 50 percent nonwhite. Sen. Corey Booker (D-N.J.) allegedly has the most diverse staff, with 65 percent nonwhite.

Senator Corry Booker (D-NJ) (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii had the second-most diverse staff, with 64 percent non-Caucasian. When it comes former presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris of California, 28 percent of her staff reportedly identified as Latino and 26 percent as Black.

“A lot of it has to do with how hiring is done on the Hill. A lot of times the folks who are in these positions to make hiring decisions often times choose within their own network that is likely not diverse,” Brenson told The Hill as to why the diversity problem persists.

“I think hiring managers need to think more about not just what is on someone’s résumé, while important, but also the kind of experiences that can’t be written on a résumé, but can be felt in a room when you’re negotiating policy, when you’re interacting with different communities and different constituents,” she added. 

Benson called out the Trump administration’s response to how the COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately hurt Black Americans. Perhaps a more diverse staff would support inclusive legislation that provides “significant relief,” she said.

“If you look at what’s going on right now with the pandemic, African Americans, specifically, are disproportionately dying and getting ill from COVID-19. There’s a failure in the Trump administration and Congress to enact real policy that going to provide significant relief,” Benson said.

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