Biden, Trump campaigns release staff diversity data

People of color comprise 36 percent of the Biden campaign's senior staff and 25 percent of the Trump campaign's senior advisers.

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By Marianna Sotomayor and Benjamin Pu

WASHINGTON — Following pressure to disclose the number of minorities on their staffs, the campaigns for former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump released diversity statistics Saturday that show less than half their senior teams are made up of people of color.

In a summary of staff data obtained by NBC News, the Biden campaign disclosed that 35 percent of the full-time staff and 36 percent of senior advisors are people of color. The campaign did not break down statistics based on race and ethnicity.

After the Biden campaign revealed its numbers, the Trump campaign followed, announcing that 25 percent of its senior staff are people of color but declining to provide information for all full-time staff.

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn after arriving on Marine One at the White House on Thursday.Alex Brandon / AP

Both campaigns touted that a majority of their staffs are comprised of women.

The Trump campaign said women comprise 56 percent of its senior staff and 52 percent of full-time staff. Similarly, the Biden campaign said 58 percent of its senior advisers are women, including 53 percent of its full-time staff.

Nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd have shined a spotlight on unequal opportunities in the U.S., pressuring companies, organizations and political campaigns to release internal diversity data that would help them confront inequalities within their own ranks.

Biden was recently pressed to release campaign staff diversity data after criticism that the presumptive Democratic nominee’s closest circle of advisers were a majority white and male. He was asked Saturday why his campaign did not disclose the staff numbers during an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote presidential live stream, Biden immediately instructed his staff to release them.

He also reiterated his commitment to ensuring that his cabinet would “look like America” if elected, “from the Vice President to straight down through Cabinet members, to major players within the White House and the court is going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.”

The Trump campaign has twice faced criticism this year about its diversity, most recently after Vice President Mike Pence posted a picture of himself with staff at campaign headquarters in Virginia for not following health code orders, including wearing a mask. However some were quick to point out that many in the room were white.

Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia, noted the difference between the Trump and Biden campaign’s ethnic diversity in their senior staff.

“It might not seem like a huge deal, but the disparity between a quarter and more than a third of people of color, especially in this environment, matters a lot,” she said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks in Darby, Pa., on June 17.Matt Slocum / AP file

Inclusv, a diversity group that aims to increase diversity numbers in politics, announced it would be working to increase the Biden campaign’s minority staff numbers. The campaign itself pointed out that it continues to hire and will prioritize filling key roles with people of color.

“Hopefully, as the Biden campaign staffs up in the states, they will continue to prioritize recruiting and hiring diverse applicants with the hope that by the end of the cycle, they can reach a benchmark of 45 percent,” Inclusv co-founder Alida Garcia told NBC News.

She said that while the Trump campaign may call its numbers diverse, the president’s policies do not share the values of increasing diversity.

“A president who is the candidate of separating families and dehumanizing protestors who are advocating to defend Black life, then it doesn’t matter who makes up his team," she said. "His values of a diverse and inclusive America are very clear.”

During the APIA Vote live stream, Biden slammed Trump’s recent racist references to the coronavirus as “Kung flu” and “China flu” and said Trump “only knows how to speak to people’s fears, not to their better angels.”

“Asian Americans are being targeted with violence in subject to xenophobic rhetoric from the mouth of the president himself,” Biden said. “This is the president who instead of bringing our country together, does everything he can to fan the flames of hate and division in this country.”

Trump campaign surrogate Guam Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo dodged criticism about Trump’s use of the racist phrases, instead pointing to incidents of looting that occurred around the same time as Black Lives Matter protests across the country and suggested that Biden was culpable.

Monica Alba contributed.