You are on page 1of 3

December 19, 2017

The Honorable Doug Jones

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator-elect Jones:

Congratulations on your historic victory in last weeks election. As you prepare to staff your
local and Washington, DC offices, we believe it is vital that you do so with a recognition of the
profound lack of racial diversity that currently exists among staff in the U.S. Senate. We urge
you to commit to making diversity a priority in hiring by doing the following:

1. Embrace the Rooney Rule and interview at least one person of color for every senior
position in your office;

2. Commit to hiring diverse candidates throughout your offices to ensure that the
demographics of your office reflect the demographics of Alabama and America;

3. Commit to hiring at least one person of color for a senior staff position in your
Washington office, defined as chief of staff, legislative director, and communications

Members of Congress cannot fully represent all the communities they were elected to serve
without advisors that reflect the whole of America.

As you may know, earlier this year the Senate Democratic Caucus adopted the Rooney Rule, a
commitment to interviewing at least one person of color for senior staff positions. We ask that
you embrace this caucus rule and interview people of color for senior positions in your
respective offices.

A diverse coalition is not only essential in securing electoral victories, but also fundamental in
creating policy that fully represents the voices of Americans.

Staffers provide political and policy expertise, develop legislation, and act as representatives for
Members with constituents and advocacy organizations. They also manage offices, hire and
remove employees, and work with you to respond publicly during times of crisis. While Senators
make the final decision, senior Senate staff in particular possess significant influence in shaping
the legislative process and oversight of federal components that have over four million civilian
and military personnel and multibillion dollar budgets. Senior Senate staff positions are also
important because the Senate has several unique responsibilities, including the confirmation of
federal judges, cabinet secretaries, ambassadors, and many other top federal agency officials.

In December 2015, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies conducted a study on
Racial Diversity Among Top Senate Staff. In a nation that was 36% minority, just 7.1% of senior
Senate staffers, defined then as chief of staff, legislative director, communications director, and

committee staff director, were people of color. In 2016, a movement began to remove the
barriers that have closed the door of opportunity to qualified people of color seeking to serve the
American people on Capitol Hill. The movement has been clear: the status quo is no longer
acceptable. Diversity must be a priority.

As a new Member of the U.S. Senate, you have an opportunity to show your constituents that not
only do their voices matter, but that their experiences and skills are vital to the work that you do
to represent them. Ensuring racial diversity among your staff would enhance the deliberation,
innovation, legitimacy, and outcomes of your office and of the Senate as a whole. Hiring at least
one person of color to your senior staff in Washington would speak loudly, and we ask that you
do so among the qualified applicants that you will receive.

The lack of diversity among top Senate staff is not caused by a complete absence of strong
candidates of color. In the coming weeks, we intend to work closely with Leader Schumers
Democratic Diversity Initiative to provide you with a slate of exemplary candidates for all
positions in your Washington office. We would also be happy meet with you and your transition
team to discuss best practices for identifying and attracting strong candidates of color.

Together, we can continue the progress in ensuring that our most democratic branch of
government is truly representative of Alabama and our nation. We look forward to working with

Thank you,

Asian Improv Arts Midwest

Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS)

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO

Diversity Matters


Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

National Action Network

National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse (NAPAFASA)


NALEO Educational Fund

National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL)

National Urban League

OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates

South Asian Fund for Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST)