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DCCC celebrates gains in diverse hiring and contracting

Less than three years after facing heavy criticism for its lack of diversity, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has made great strides in increasing the racial and identity diversity of its staff and vendors, according to a new memorandum assembled by the group, which is the campaign arm of the House Democrats.

Using a self-identification system, DCCC found that 43% of its staff are people of color, 53% are women, 25% are members of the LGBTQ community, 1% s identify as a gender other than male or female, and 13% are disabled.

Of what the DCCC considers senior executives, 47% of people identify as people of color and 26% identify as members of the LGBTQ community.

Additionally, DCCC spending on businesses owned or run by people of color has increased significantly. The DCCC says it spent $695,000 on contracts with vendors owned by people of color during the 2014 election cycle, the first election cycle it has tracked this data.

Now, with the benefit of more detailed data, the DCCC says it spent $30.7 million on businesses owned or run by people of color in the 2020 cycle.

“The DCCC believes in living and practicing the values ​​of the Democratic Party,” said Tasha Cole, DCCC Deputy Executive Director for Diversity. “The work we do is to put practices, protocols and accountability in place so that we can measure our progress and, more importantly, measure our results and how those results lead us to retain the majority.”

The group has no information on the number of its suppliers directed by people of color during the 2014 election cycle, so there’s no way to exactly compare the increases she’s made in the intervening years. But party officials believe that even using the broader category of businesses “run” by people of color, supplier diversity was very low in 2014.

As for the current election cycle, DCCC spending is just getting started, so data is not yet available on the makeup of these companies.

The lack of more detailed diversity in previous election cycles is part of a problem the DCCC has spent years trying to address. The DCCC hired Colea former executive of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, in November 2019 as part of an effort to diversify its ranks.

At the time, the DCCC and its then president, Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), faces criticism members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for what they saw as a lack of racial diversity among DCCC staff, particularly at the senior level.

Latino and Black lawmakers argued that the DCCC’s lack of investment in diverse hiring showed a lack of respect for lawmakers and voters who keep the campaign group’s lights on, but also a failure to understand that the Black and Latino staff perspectives are key to reaching Latino and Black voters.

Unlike the data it has on its suppliers dating back to 2014, the DCCC does not have data on the diversity of its staff from previous election cycles, so it is difficult to assess exactly how well the organization’s staff have changed in recent years.

But Rep. Gregory Meeks (DN.Y.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee, applauded the DCCC’s improvements, thanking both Bustos for responding to comments and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY ), which is the current DCCC. chair. (Maloney is the first DCCC chair from the LGBTQ community.)

“It’s getting better for sure,” Meeks said, targeting Cole for his praise. “Tasha is indeed a change agent in my opinion.”

To diversify, the DCCC has had to build new vehicles for recruiting and contracting with vendors who conduct surveys, manufacture direct mail and produce television commercials.

To that end, Cole and his team revamped DCCC’s “RFP” process so that it subjects all DCCC contracts over $100,000 to new levels of expert scrutiny. of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion of the DCCC. DCCC DEI staff ensure that companies with diverse ownership have adequate opportunities to bid on contracts, and have made the various hiring practices of these companies a factor in how the DCCC assesses whether to work with them.

During this cycle, DCCC launched the “DCCC Firm Directory” – the first comprehensive list of external vendors that meet DCCC’s standards for diverse hiring, use of organized labor and quality. other criteria.

Cole told HuffPost that a key part of increasing the diversity of DCCC’s vendors and staff has been a willingness to engage people and companies who have never worked in politics before. An example of a new vendor the DCCC has forged a relationship with under Cole’s watch is Liquid Soul, a black-owned marketing firm in Atlanta that had previously only worked for corporate clients.

Companies like Liquid Soul “speak to consumers who are also voters,” Cole said. “And so I think the talent and the experience that they bring can guide how we want to mobilize and talk to constituents and meet our constituents.”

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