Over 40% of Biden’s Transition Team Are People of Color. That Matters.

President-elect Joe Biden has prioritized working with women and people of color as he transitions into the White House (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

By Sarah Amy Harvard

November 16, 2020

Nearly half of the people Biden has tasked with helping him to lay the groundwork for his administration are people of color—a sharp contrast to the predominantly white Trump administration.

President-elect Joe Biden is already following up on his promise to have an administration that “will look like America” with the majority of his transition team identifying as women or people of color. 

Over 40% of those Biden has tasked with helping him to lay the groundwork for his administration are people of color—a sharp contrast to the predominantly white Trump administration. According to NBC News, the diversity data of the former vice president’s transition team closely matches “similar levels of gender parity and racial diversity” with his presidential campaign staff. About 35% of people of color and 53% of women worked on his campaign. 

“As we continue working full-speed ahead to Inauguration, our diverse group of leaders and staff are reflective of America — upholding President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris’ belief that through diverse voices we can develop and implement a policy vision to tackle our nation’s toughest challenges,” Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the Biden-Harris transition, told CNN.

At the time of publishing, about 52% of his transition team are women, including 53% of his senior staff. The transition’s advisory board also consists of mostly women. Nearly half of Biden’s transition team (46%) are people of color, and 41% are among his senior staff. 

In contrast, President Donald Trump has the highest percentage of white men serving in his cabinet since the Reagan administration. Excluding the vice president, there are typically 15 leadership positions of executive departments in a president’s Cabinet such as the Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, and Secretary of Energy. After the 2016 election as Trump began transitioning into his presidency, only 19% of the cabinet identified as women and people of color. According to NPR, about 71% of the Trump administration at the start of his term were white men.

Biden’s recently announced 13-member COVID task force is also made up of nine doctors and public health experts who are people of color and co-chaired by a Black woman. This is a significant course of action by the president-elect, considering the fact the pandemic has disproportionately affected people of color at alarming rates and with dire socio-economic consequences. 

The diversity data of Biden’s transition team comes as many politically savvy Americans watch to see who Biden will nominate to key Cabinet and other staffing positions. Although the president-elect has yet to announce his picks, Janet Yellen is reportedly under consideration for Secretary of the Department of the Treasury and Michele Flournoy as the Secretary for the Department of Defense. If their appointments are confirmed, they will be the first women to hold those positions in United States history.

President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will also accomplish several historic milestones themselves when they are sworn in on Inauguration Day. Biden will become the oldest president, and Harris will be the first Black, Indian-American, and woman vice president in US history, signaling an era of hope and inspiration for millions of women and people of color across the country.

“My administration’s going to look like America, not just my staff, the administration from the vice president straight down through Cabinet members to major players within the White House, and the court,” Biden said in a June town hall meeting for Asian American and Pacific Islander voters. “It’s going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.”


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