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Increasing racial diversity in Congress not about 'charity,’ says policy expert

America is becoming more diverse, but Congress is not, according to public policy expert Spencer Overton, citing a new report on racial diversity among top House staff.

Overton, the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told Hill.TV that Congress needs make more of an effort when it comes to hiring more staff members of color, saying it isn’t about “charity,” but rather about better representing America as a whole.

“We found that Americans are more likely to elect a member of color to the House than House members themselves are likely to hire a top staffer of color,” Overton told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Ned Ryun on Wednesday.

“This is not just charity – this is about adequately representing the country,” he added.

The policy expert joined “Rising” to discuss a recent report that was released by the nonpartisan think tank last month, which found that nearly 75 percent of all House members don't have any top staffers in minority groups.

The policy expert also argued that this isn’t a partisan issue, but rather a problem for both Democrats and Republicans alike.

For example, only eight percent of top staff among white Democrats are people of color even though on average they represent districts that are 37 percent people of color, he said. 

Republicans, meanwhile, have only three percent of their top staff represented by minority groups despite representing districts where minorities make up 26 percent of the demographic.

But he said white Republicans are doing a slightly better job in some areas, boasting more minority chiefs of staff than their Democratic counterparts.

Overton adds that the first step when it comes to addressing the issue includes hiring more paid interns, interviewing more people of color for mid-level positions and appropriately tracking staff demographic data.

“Big picture, tracking and disclosure. It’s difficult to address a problem if you don’t understand the problem.”

— Tess Bonn