Money & Business

Weekly Now: Congressional Staffers Push for Diversity Gains

By / Nov 16, 2020 (lucky-photographer/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

With Congress increasingly reflecting the U.S. population, groups representing congressional staff are pushing for the same among senior leadership. Also: The case for focusing on small victories right now.

When the next class of Congress convenes in 2021, lots of new faces—including the largest class of Republican women in the history of the House—will help to highlight the diversity of the country the body serves.

A group of associations want to make sure that extends to their staff as well. Recently, the Tri-Caucus Staff Associations—a coalition of associations representing staffers of Black, Asian-Pacific, and Hispanic descent—sent a letter to congressional leadership making the case for stronger diversity among staffers in both chambers of the legislature. More than a dozen other staff groups signed on as well.

“As a coalition of Congressional Staff Organizations, we encourage you to work with us to make diversity and inclusion a priority in your hiring for your Washington, D.C., and local offices, particularly for senior staff roles,” the letter stated, per The Hill.

The coalition noted that even despite recent gains, “there is still a long road ahead to increase diversity among both Members and staff,” citing statistics that show nearly 70 percent of employees in the House are white, while minorities make up only 21 percent of the senior staff.

Diversity has been a growing trend in Congress—the current session, which completes at the end of the year, had the strongest rate of racial and ethnic diversity among legislators in the body’s history, with nonwhite lawmakers making up nearly a quarter of the House. And the forthcoming session starting in January will see openly gay Black House members take office for the first time—with Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones (both D-NY) winning their races earlier this month.

Other news highlights:

Getting ready for 6G, already: The first iPhones with built-in 5G support came out only a couple of weeks ago, but that hasn’t stopped Apple or its frenemy Google from joining a new alliance focused on building formative standards for 6G. The Next G Alliance, under the umbrella of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), brought on the iPhone and Android makers, along with Charter, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, LG Electronics, and numerous other companies in an effort to advance a North American presence for a forthcoming next-generation wireless standard.

Encouraging careers in publishing: The United Kingdom-based Publishers Association is hoping to draw a new generation of people into the world of publishing with its Work in Publishing week, taking place this week. The effort aims to help provide guidance for those looking to apply for jobs, highlight the industry’s many opportunities, show off publishing’s diverse backgrounds, and shake off a few myths along the way. Major publishing shops such as Penguin Random House and Hachette UK are launching programs of their own in support of the week. In comments to The Bookseller, PA Deputy Director of External Affairs Ruth Howells noted that it was encouraging other members to get involved as well. “We would love to see as many people as possible sharing insights and advice to inspire young people to join this vibrant and creative industry,” Howells said.

Small Steps Warranted

CQbd Chief Communications Officer Jay Daughtry noticed something recently—with all the big things going on in the world, associations are facing challenges keeping the small things in check.

In an interview with podcaster Mary Byers, Daughtry explained how this led him to start the Association Initiative on Small Improvement, which aims to keep associations from being paralyzed by the difficult times.

“I thought, there’s got to be a way for us to focus on the smaller kinds of things, not big-picture things that associations can’t control,” he said in the podcast, “but what are the things that they can control and they can make improvements on?”

Learn more about the initiative on Byers’ Successful Associations Today podcast.

ICYMI …

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Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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