Diversity Among Senate Democratic Staff Increases, Survey Reveals

A survey from the office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., breaks down the diversity numbers based on race, ethnicity and gender among the U.S. Senate Democratic staff as of June 30.

The Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative plan, updated annually, aids the Senate Democratic offices in assembling a diverse workforce that reflects the nation’s racial, ethnic and gender makeup and demographically represents the party’s constituents. The initiative is an integral part of Schumer’s leadership.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., created the plan in 2007, according to the Senate Democrats website.

Since Schumer started the survey, there has been a significant increase of people of color working in the Senate than in previous administrations.

Democrats saw an increase in staff diversity related to race within the all-important Judiciary Committee, and there was an increase in staff diversity related to race within the vital HELP Committee, according to information sent from Schumer’s office.

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies applauded the diversity efforts of the Senate Democrats based on the release of their sixth annual survey.

The Senate Republican offices have not issued a breakdown of their staff demographic data, according to the Joint Center.

The center conducted an analysis, accompanied by graphs, that ranked the top three personal and committee offices that have a racially diverse staff, including Sens. Alex Padilla, Mazie Hirono and Cory Booker.

Out of the 50 Democratic personal offices, only 35 communicated an increase of nonwhite staff members, 11 indicated a decrease and four remained the same. Of the 35 Senate Democratic individual offices that reported an increase, only 31% saw an increase of over 5%, The Joint Center reports.

“Senate Democrats are committed to ensuring every citizen feels represented in our democracy, and we understand this starts in our own offices,” Schumer stated in a news release. “That’s why, for the sixth year in a row under my leadership, the Democratic caucus has published the results of our internal survey on diversity among Senate Democratic staff.”

“And while we’re glad that this year we have the highest percentage of staff identifying as people of color, we know much more needs to be done to increase diversity in the halls of Congress. Our caucus understands that our legislative process is stronger when all voices are heard and represented,” Schumer added.

Joint Center Senior Fellow of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. LaShonda Brenson said she is pleased with the process but points out areas for improvement.

“It’s encouraging to see Senate Democrats continue to show transparency in disclosing the percentage of top staff of color in their offices and the increase of staff diversity in 35 offices,” Brenson said, according to the Joint Center.

“While I applaud Senators Padilla, Hirono, and Booker for having 67% or more people of color in their staff, there is still room for growth for Senators who have retained fewer people of color on their staff since last year, particularly the Senate committees. Senate Democrats should also disaggregate its data to show how many top positions are held by people of color. We applaud the Senate Democrats’ leadership on staff diversity and look forward to working with them more on this issue,” Brenson added.