President-elect Joe Biden is currently staffing his administration and he has underscored a key priority: building a team that “looks like America.”
According to the data he shared, Biden’s transition team is one of the most diverse of all time – representatives who hope they continue to see as the administration works on the broader staffing of the White House and Cabinet Choices.
So far, 46% of Biden’s transition staff are people of color and 41% of senior executives are people of color. More than half of the transition staff – 52% – are women and 53% of senior managers are women.
When it comes to the Agency review teams (ART) – individuals who focus on transferring power in individual agencies – a majority of the roughly 500 people who work there are also women, and around 40% are members of under-represented groups in the federal government, including including people of color, members of the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities. As the Associated Press reported, Black men and women lead more than a quarter of ART teams.
Biden and his team have repeatedly emphasized that diversity is a top priority for them as they prepare for the change in administration. And America supports the move: According to a Vox / Data for Progress poll, 49% of all likely voters and 72% of Democrats believe its Cabinet should reflect the nation’s gender and racial diversity.
Previously, the Obama administration was announced as one of the most diverse in history, while the The Trump administration’s cabinet was much more white and masculine. By including a wide range of perspectives on staff, the Biden administration will be able to capitalize on a wide range of expertise and lived experiences that people can bring to these roles.
“As he did during the campaign of his transition, Joe Biden will be intentional to find diverse voices to develop and implement his political vision to address our country’s most difficult challenges,” said Cameron French, a Transition spokesperson Biden, at Vox.
Advocates welcome the administration’s emphasis on representation and inclusion as part of the transition, but note that this is only a first step. They stress that they will keep a close eye on how Biden’s staffing continues and on policy proposals. “How that portrayal translates into what they deliver is what matters most to me,” said Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, an advocacy group aimed at fighting racial injustice, to Vox.
Supporters say growing representation is a critical starting point
Advocacy groups such as Color of Change, Democracy For America and UltraViolet note that increasing representation is a critical starting point – and they’re interested to see what comes next.
Robinson said he would keep a close eye on how Biden staff and the Cabinet hold companies to account, and wanted staff members to bring deep racial justice expertise to policy areas, including regulation. technology and criminal justice reform. “We’re going to find out who’s going to resist corporate power,” he told Vox.
As Bloomberg reportedBiden chose several experts on systemic racism from among those who will lead the transition efforts at the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve, signaling a major focus on racial inequality. This includes law professor Mehrsa Baradaran, known for her research on the racial wealth gap and disparities in banking, and economics professor Lisa Cook, known for her work on racial inequalities in wages and education affect under-represented groups and the economy in general.
While Biden has yet to announce a Cabinet pick, advocates have also noted that they are interested to see what the continued engagement of the Biden administration looks like, and whether it will take into account the contribution of activists. from under-represented groups – and will promote progressive voices – as it develops new policy proposals. Economic policies, including next steps for stimulus and measures to tackle racial disparities in aid, are among the areas they would like to get involved.
“I would like to make sure that the Biden administration has the ears of all the amazing activists and organizers out there,” said Bridget Todd, communications director for UltraViolet. Robinson notes that he appreciates the outreach the transition team has conducted so far, which has included conversations about staff.
For now, Biden’s team has said it is focused on tracking and measuring weekly staffing progress and communicating with a large list of candidates. And as Biden assesses his selections, in addition to his political priorities, defenders will be watching closely how he continues to deliver on his diversity promises.