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How K Street Pushed for Diversity on the Hill How K Street Pushed for Diversity on the Hill

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How K Street Pushed for Diversity on the Hill

The push for diversity on the Hill came from K Street.

My colleague Julia Edwards continues her series on diversity (or lack thereof) on the Hill, and in her latest installment she reports on how a group of black former staffers-turned-lobbyists, led by Podesta lobbyist and former Congressional Black Caucus executive director Paul Brathwaite, worked the Hill to increase diversity among hires:

Brathwaite's group repeatedly heard chiefs of staff explain that there were simply too few minorities applying for the positions they were seeking to fill. They didn't have time to track down those who didn't know to apply, and publishing openings online would lead to a deluge of applications. One of the people voicing this complaint was Reid's deputy chief of staff, David McCallum.

"In a lot of offices, for better or worse, the existing pipelines were set up in a way that résumés came in through existing staff, former staff, friends, and supporters in the home state. The majority of those resumes that ended up on the desks of people like me didn't have that much diversity in them," McCallum said.

So what happened? Well, in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid created a staff position with the sole purpose of recruiting diverse candidates. After five years, nearly 90 percent of Senate Democrats' offices have hired someone through the initiative.

Meanwhile, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi created an online resume bank for diverse candidates, managed by the House Administration Committee. It never really functioned when the Democrats handed it off after they lost control of the House, and the resumes submitted sit there collecting dust, so to speak.

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