FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON — A. Shuanise Washington, president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF), released the following statement in response to recent news reports on the lack of diversity and inclusion among senior staff in United States Senate offices.
Capitol Hill’s diversity crisis is at an all-time high. The lack of diversity and inclusion among senior staff in Senate offices can have long term and significant political consequences. While racial disparities in hiring continue to plague Senate staff offices, they also raise troubling concerns about the influence and the extent to which minorities can impact the legislative process. Every day, policy decisions affecting millions of Americans on the economy, education, and healthcare are debated in the halls of Congress. When it comes to the decision-making process, African Americans are almost non-existent in senior staff positions. Thus, decisions affecting millions are made by members of Congress who may be out of touch with the needs and concerns of disenfranchised communities.
The CBCF is committed to fairness and equity in the workplace as well as the marketplace. For more than 30 years, the CBCF has prepared young African-Americans for careers through our Leadership Institute. To date, our fellowships, internships and scholarships have created opportunities for more than 3,500 young leaders in public service careers and beyond.
The CBCF launched Emerge 535 initiative over three years ago with a specific focus of ensuring that an African-American intern is in all 535 offices on Capitol Hill. Since launching, Emerge 535 has placed interns in 69 Congressional offices and 19 House and Senate committees.
While the CBCF continues to succeed in creating new opportunities for black leaders in public service careers and public policy positions, more must be done to correct the diversity gap in the Senate. It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that we have the highest-quality workforce.
The beginning of a new Congress represents a fresh start to address the issues that are important to us all. As we welcome new and returning members of the 115th Congress in 2017, I extend my hand in partnership with Senate leaders and ask that we work together to make developing access to Senate employment opportunities for all Americans a top priority.