Survey shows Senate Democratic staff is more diverse now than ever before

Congress has made it a priority to diversify their office and provide tools to make that happen,” said Kayla Primes, a board member for the Congressional Black Associates, told theGrio.

U.S. Senate Democratic staff is more diverse now than it has been in the last five years. 

According to a survey conducted by the Diversity Initiative, 28 Senate democratic offices are now comprised of at least 40% of staff members who identify as non-white. That number is up from the 2017 survey launched by Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, which at the time, revealed only 15 Democratic Senate offices were made up of at least 40% of staff members who identified as non-white.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walks to a meeting with Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson at the U.S. Capitol on March 2, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In a statement provided to theGrio, Schumer said that although diversity within Senate offices has increased in recent years, more needs to be done. 

“Senate Democrats are committed to ensuring every citizen feels represented in our democracy, and we understand this starts in our own offices,” he wrote. “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.”

TheGrio spoke with Kayla Primes, a board member for the Congressional Black Associates, a bi-partisan congressional staff organization that aims to “enhance the political, social and economic capabilities of Black people on Capitol Hill.” Primes said the survey’s findings are due, in part, to Congress making diversity a priority.

“Congress has made it a priority to diversify their office and provide tools to make that happen. Such as the implementation of different diversity offices in both the House and Senate,” she remarked, adding “their goal is to ensure that offices have the diversity that they’re needing or they’re asking for.”

Primes added, “But I also think it’s because of, you know, the existence of staff associations, like Congressional Black Associates, who have been partnering with different offices about seeking Black talent.” She told theGrio that having a diverse staff will only benefit America.

Kayla Primes, Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-IL) and President of Congressional Black Associates (CBA) poses at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Friday, March 25, 2022. (Photo by Cheriss May for The Grio)

“There has been no important decision in America that has been made without a person of color urging for that action,” she declared. “I think it’s important that you have a diverse group of people at the table making important decisions for all.

Referencing America’s reputation as a “melting pot” comprised of citizens from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, Primes said, “it’s important that everybody’s voice is heard and that Congress is meeting the needs of all Americans.”

Primes said one way to increase diversity amongst Senate offices is for media outlets to publish success stories of congressional leaders who represent people of color. She credited reading political stories in publications like Teen Vogue for influencing her decision to embark on a career in politics.  

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other institutions, she said, also play a vital role in creating a pipeline for more Black and brown talent in political spaces. Primes, who majored in political science at Howard University, noted how professors at the HBCU’s political science department would often tell her and other students, “[you] can be anything that you want.”

“Having institutions like HBCUs and minority-serving institutions can definitely help ensure that people know that they are needed here,” she said.

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku and Android TV. Also, please download theGrio mobile apps today!