Politics

Biden’s Cabinet Would Be Most Diverse In U.S. History If Confirmed

President Joe Biden has repeatedly promised to “build an administration that looks like America." A new analysis finds he is holding to that pledge.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (pictured from left to right) are key Biden Cabinet nominees who have been confirmed by the Senate as of January 26, 2021. | Getty Images
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen (pictured from left to right) are key Biden Cabinet nominees who have been confirmed by the Senate as of January 26, 2021. | Getty Images

President Joe Biden’s proposed Cabinet would be the most diverse in U.S. history if all nominees are confirmed, fulfilling a key campaign promise.

An independent analysis from the non-profit group Inclusive America found that more than half of Biden’s 25-member Cabinet would be nonwhite and that women would comprise 48% of it, if confirmed by the Senate. 

Vice President Kamala Harris has already made history as the first woman, Black American, and South Asian American to serve in the role. Harris is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India.

Transition officials said nearly 20% of “the first set of 100-plus” White House staff are first-generation Americans, according to PBS NewsHour.

On December 30, when announcing more incoming White House and administration staffers, President Biden told PBS, “From the beginning, Vice President-elect Harris and I have sought to build an administration that looks like America.”

Inclusive America, whose mission is to “help make the government as diverse as the people of the United States” according to its website, is holding the new administration to its commitment with the “Biden Diversity Tracker.”

In his statement to PBS, Biden continued: “Building a diverse team will lead to better outcomes and more effective solutions to address the urgent crises facing our nation.”

Inclusive America also found that Biden’s proposed Cabinet includes more women and people of color than the previous four administrations, based on data it collected, even improving on the then-record numbers set by former President Barack Obama.

The first Senate-confirmed Biden Cabinet nominee was Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the first woman to serve in that position. She was confirmed in a broadly bipartisan 84-10 vote on Inauguration Day, January 20.

On January 22, the Senate confirmed Gen. Lloyd Austin III as the first Black defense secretary in American history. On January 26, Janet Yellen was confirmed as the first woman to serve as treasury secretary. 

Further confirmations over the coming weeks could also make history: Pete Buttigieg would be the first out gay Cabinet secretary if confirmed to lead the department of transportation; Deb Haaland would be the first Native American Cabinet lead if confirmed to run the department of the interior; and Alejandro Mayorkas would be the first Latinx and immigrant to be secretary of homeland security if confirmed.

In addition to the Cabinet heads, the Biden-Harris administration has been focused on diversity and inclusion among all levels of staffers.

Mark Hanis, the co-founder of Inclusive America, said the administration is “at parity [with] or better than” the general U.S. population when it comes to senior White House staff, deputy-level staff, and more junior positions, according to The New York Times.

“Women make up 60 percent of the team beyond the cabinet, and just over 40 percent of that team is nonwhite. In the last four administrations, cabinets ...  were predominantly white and women made up no more than 33 percent,” The Times reported.

Our Newsletter
By Signing Up, I Agree to the Terms and Privacy Policy.