By ERIKA LOVLEY , politico.com
WASHINGTON - Fewer House offices reached out to minority groups and historically black colleges as part of their recruitment efforts in 2010 than did in 2009, a new study shows.
The 2010 House Compensation Study, published by the Chief Administrative Office, found that 24 percent of the 133 House offices surveyed said they reached out to groups like Congressional Tri-Caucus, down from 33 percent in 2010. Asked about whether it was a priority for office demographics to reflect the makeup of their districts, 39 percent of those surveyed said it was.
“It’s unacceptable that 76 percent of offices fail to do proper outreach to ensure diversity of candidates to fill their staff. We must continue to strengthen diversity resources for congressional offices,” said Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.). “Not only is staff diversity essential to a healthy democracy, we also must ensure that our congressional staff reflects the rich diversity of our nation..”
The findings come a few days after the House launched a resume bank and employment website aimed at hiring more minorities on the Hill, a result of findings from the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association earlier this year that Hispanics are underrepresented in congressional offices, especially in policy positions.
“My reaction is, no surprise,” said one congressional staffer close to the minority groups of the study. “Hill people are notoriously close-minded and usually only solicit resumes from people they know. It impacts the unacceptable hiring pattern and make up of hill staff that you see now.”
The study also showed little change in the number of women and other underrepresented groups serving in upper level congressional office positions. The number of women serving as chiefs of staff dropped by nearly 10 percent in the last year. The number of Hispanics, blacks and American Indians serving as chiefs of staff decreased by about a percentage point. The number of female legislative aides dropped by nearly five percent, while the number of minorities serving in those positions dropped slightly or held even in every category.
About 1.5 percent more women served as legislative directors than in 2009, but the number of minorities serving in that position dropped slightly in several categories, including blacks, Hispanics and Asians.
However, women continued to swell in the ranks at the lowest level positions on the Hill, surpassing men as legislative correspondents, 53 percent, and filling more than 80 percent of office manager and scheduler positions.
Four minority staffer groups earlier this week sent a joint letter to both House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and House GOP Transition Team Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), urging leaders to keep up with the House’s diversity initiative, despite a change in leadership.
There has been some concern among minority groups that Republicans would not remain committed to the Pelosi-launched diversity program.
“I don’t think it’s intentional. I think it’s just the structure of hiring on the Hill,” said Simon Tafoya, a member of the Hispanic association. “Staff resources and time are so limited. You’re just looking for resumes from sources you can trust. That’s why its encouraging to see the launch of the House Diversity website.”