House Adopts Historic New Rules Package to Boost Staff Diversity
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Soon after the 116th Congress was sworn in, the U.S. House of Representatives voted yesterday to adopt a new set of rules that will boost diversity on Capitol Hill, including the establishment of an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the appointment of a chief diversity officer and provisions for a survey to evaluate congressional staff diversity. The new rules package follows NALEO Educational Fund’s efforts – including months of meetings with House members, leadership offices, committees and staff – to ensure diversity was made a priority. “With a historically diverse freshman class sworn in yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives is already putting diversity on Capitol Hill at the top of its agenda,” said Arturo Vargas, CEO of NALEO Educational Fund. “These reforms are critical in building a diverse pipeline of talent that will usher in the next generation of government leadership. Our democracy is stronger when the members and staffers who are making policy decisions for our country better reflect the communities they serve.” In 2018, just 13.7 percent of senior House staffers were people of color, even as a growing 38 percent of the U.S. population is non-white. Yet unlike federal agencies and private employers, Congress has never before committed to a regular assessment of the demographic makeup of its workforce, nor formalized efforts to address racial and ethnic disparities among employees. The creation of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion - which will assess diversity across House offices – and new rules requiring member offices to develop anti-bias policies are a first for Congress. In November 2017, NALEO Educational Fund launched “Staff Up Congress” – a national initiative to build a representative congressional workforce. The initiative is working to grow the pool of candidates of color for senior positions, develop candidates’ skills and networks’, build a sustainable pipeline of candidates from the entry level to the chief of staff, and urge hiring managers to actively consider, recruit, and hire in an inclusive manner. “While the House’s rules package marks an important step forward, more work remains in the fight for diversity in Washington,” Vargas said. “NALEO Educational Fund now calls on the United States Senate to pass similar rules that will ensure the voices of all Americans are heard within its chamber.
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