Report: U.S. House Compensation And Diversity Survey Shows Black Staff Underrepresented Among Senior Roles
Getty Images

The historic sight of two women, Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi flanking the president last year sent most of us both abuzz and ablaze. We were excited to see, for the first time, a Black woman vice president and woman speaker of the house. But, it wasn’t lost on us that in all of the years of the US presidency, this was the only time we’d seen representation of this kind at that level.  

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies took a closer look at this in a new analysis of the House Office of Diversity & Inclusion’s recent survey on diversity and representation. 

The study is based on findings from a web-based survey on salary, benefits, and demographics sent to all 10,995 House staff across all Member offices, committee offices, leadership offices, and House officer offices. Of all House staff, 52.5 percent (5,777) participated in the survey. The study does not disclose the partisan breakdown of survey respondents. 

The analysis pointed out that African-Americans and Latinx-Americans are few and far between in top House roles like chief of staff, legislative director, and communications director. Essentially, those who are really decision makers aren’t people of color. 13% of African Americans account for the U.S. population, but only 7 percent of senior House staff. Latinx-Americans account for 18.5 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8.7 percent of senior House staff.  The study also highlighted that the U.S. House’s percentage of white personal office staff is significantly higher than the white population in the U.S. That gap grows even more for top roles. White people account for 60.1 percent of the U.S. population, but make up a whopping 72.9 percent of House personal staff and 79.5 percent of senior House staff. 

The popular “Dear White Staffers” Instagram account served as the launchpad for the analysis, which spotlit the challenges many Black Congressional staffers experienced on a daily basis. Through  Anonymous submissions, personal stories of microaggressions,  unfair treatment, prejudices, and poor working conditions were shared.