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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 26 March 2024

“Following the passage of the government spending bill, this disbandment deals a significant blow to the U.S. House Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s bipartisan efforts since 2020 in promoting diverse hiring within the U.S. House offices.

"This decision jeopardizes the establishment of policies to support diverse communities and threatens the pursuit of inclusivity for all Americans.

"The dissolution of the ODI is not just a bureaucratic decision but a stark symbol of a regressive agenda undermining our call for more diversity and inclusiveness in congressional offices,” said LaShonda Brenson, senior researcher, who leads the Joint Center’s Hill Diversity work. “We commend Dr. Sesha Joi Moon, ODI director, for her commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion within U.S. House offices. We also extend our gratitude to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for her role in establishing the ODI. By shuttering the ODI, which the Joint Center was instrumental in advocating for its creation, we are not just losing an office; we are losing ground in our collective pursuit of a truly representative democracy. The Joint Center is calling on the replacement office — the Office of Talent Management — to build on the great work of the ODI and create a central repository of data to help guide efforts to make the House of Representatives’ workforce more diverse. While the ODI is closing today, we stand with the Tri-Caucus Staff Associations and will continue to play a pivotal role in advocating for a congressional workforce that mirrors the diversity of the American people within the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Joint Center President Dedrick Asante-Muhammad said “Addressing diversity and inclusion within congressional staffing is not just about representation; it’s about dismantling systemic barriers that perpetuate economic inequality at large. The makeup of congressional staff directly influences policy decisions, resource allocation, and legislative priorities. By ensuring diversity and inclusion in congressional staffing, we are not only fostering a more representative democracy but also laying the groundwork for substantive progress toward addressing racial economic disparities that persist across our nation.”

Research tracks ODI effectiveness

In 2018, we released our first report on the racial makeup of top congressional staff. We found that the U.S. population is almost 40 percent people of color, but only about 14 percent of all top house staff are people of color. The report called for congress to appoint a chief diversity officer.

In 2019, the U.S. House passed a rules package, creating a new ODI and requiring the appointment of a chief diversity officer, along with developing a diversity plan. The passage came after the joint center spent weeks working with the House Democratic Diversity Initiative, the Committee on House Administration, and several personal offices, congressional caucuses, and staff associations to incorporate staff diversity provisions into the house rules package.

Since 2020, when the ODI launched, the office has dedicated itself to connecting diverse, qualified candidates to careers within the house, while providing resources to ensure that the workforce in the house reflects America’s diversity. The joint center has tracked the progress of diversity in the house by publishing an analysis of the 2019 U.S. House’s diversity and compensation study of key roles in committee and leadership offices and key roles in the personal offices. We followed up with an analysis of the 2021 ODI report examining staff data on diversity and compensation, and subsequently released our most recent house report, “Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in the U.S. House of Representatives,” where in 2022, we found an increase in house personnel office top staff of color from about 14 percent to 18 percent, which is still far removed from the 40 percent of people of color who make up the U.S. population.

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