The effort to expand opportunities for practitioners of color hit two milestones this week with the launch of a new national association and the publication of a first-of-its-kind report detailing the racial diversity of staff at state Democratic parties.
Chuck Rocha, president of Solidarity Strategies, announced the formation of the National Association of Diverse Consultants on Tuesday. The organization aims to be a kind of request-for-proposals clearing house where candidates and advocacy groups can connect with firms operated by practitioners of color.
“For a long time we’ve talked about diversity. Lots of people talk about diversity in our field,” Rocha told C&E after unveiling the new group at the National Press Club in D.C. “In the political consulting world, whether you’re a Democrat, Independent, Republican, there’s not a lot of diversity. As America has changed, the consulting class really hasn’t changed.”
Also this week, Inclusv, which formed in 2015 with a mission to expand opportunities for staffers of color in the campaign industry, released a report that catalogues the racial makeup of the staff at 41 state Democratic parties and the District of Columbia. The group compiled the report from a self-reported survey completed by either the executive directors, party chairmen or political directors.
The report notes that of the 401 staffers employed by the responding state parties, 68 percent are white, 14.5 percent are black, 8.2 percent are Latino, 3.7 percent are Asian-American/Pacifica Islander and 2 percent are Arab. Native Americans or people of “unspecific color” occupied the remaining positions. Only 14 people of color hold executive director positions.
To help remedy that, Inclusv released a list of 10 recommendations, including implementing the “Rooney Rule,” which would require the parties to interview at least one candidate of color for each open position.
“We don’t need well-intentioned ideas that continue to fail; we need to jumpstart professional inclusionary efforts to keep up with the demographic changes in our nation,” the report read.
For Chuck Rocha, one of the laments he hears repeatedly from potential clients is that they can’t find firms owned by practitioners of color, something the new association hopes to remedy.
“You can search by whatever the service is you want,” he said. “If you want phones, you can click on the phones tab. It’ll show you all the majority-people of color owned firms and what they self-identify as.
Maybe you want somebody that specializes in Spanish phones? We wanted to connect people who own their own firms who are people of color.”
The industry’s push for diversity has been more public on the left with some Republican consultants saying they’re content to see a natural evolution take place. On the Democratic side, however, strategists have linked diversity to success at the ballot box. Democratic practitioners of color have maintained that their party’s candidates can’t succeed without support from consultants and staffers that mirror the U.S. population’s growing diversity.