Photo: U.S. Capitol building
National Urban Fellows, one of the country’s oldest leadership development organizations, announced the findings of Diversity Counts: Racial and Ethnic Diversity among Public Service Leadership, the first comprehensive review of representation in government, philanthropy, and non-profit organizations.
Diversity Counts reveals the continuing dilemma of the under-representation of people of color in public service leadership, while offering that leadership diversity remains both an opportunity and a challenge for public service institutions. The opportunity is for top decision-makers in public service to adopt system-wide inclusionary practices and the challenge is to expand opportunities for new diverse perspectives in leadership.
The publication shows that for congressional representation, diversity among the combined 535 House and Senate members only about 16 percent are people of color. Specifically, 44 (8 percent) are African American, 27 (5 percent) are Latino/Latina, 10 (2 percent) are Asian Pacific American, and 1 (less than 1 percent) is Native American. Also according to the data, staffs of U.S. Representatives are under-represented in key positions: only 13 percent of chiefs of staff are people of color; approximately 13 percent of House legislative directors are people of color; and only about 22 percent of senior legislative aides and legislatives aides are people of color.
The report illustrates that state and local governments don’t fair much better. In state government among the 50 governors of the United States, 92 percent are of White, non-Hispanic heritage, and that only 13 of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have a chief diversity officer on record. Among the five most diverse states, people of color are under-represented in state legislatures, including the state house of representatives/assembly and the state senate.
In county and local governments sixty-one percent of our nation’s 18 most diverse counties have an executive who is identified as a person of color. In the majority of the nation’s most diverse cities, there is an under-representation of people of color on city councils, in comparison with their percentage of the general population. In two cities, San Francisco, California, and San Antonio, Texas, the percentage of people of color on the city council, 71 percent and 90 percent, respectively, exceeds the percentage of people of color in the general population, 58 percent and 73 percent, respectively.