Donald Trump has selected two women for his cabinet: Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and Nikki Haley, as Ambassador to the United Nations. Rumors have it that he’s selected Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or as Health and Human Services Secretary. The media has hailed Trump’s recent appointees as a move towards diversity.
It is still early in Trump’s cabinet and senior level picks. We can appreciate him appointing two women and two people of color, but if these selections are the sum and total of his diverse appointments than no, he can’t be congratulated. And diversity is more than numbers: we’ll need to look at who he has selected for what position in order to truly judge Trump’s outreach.
We know that a main Trump focus is on immigration, the military, and national security. These would encompass the Attorney General, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, the Ambassador to the UN, Director of the FBI, CIA Director, Directory of Intelligence, as well as the National Security Adviser. Currently, under President Obama, these positions are filled by three women and six men. Among the nine, three are people of color.
Another Trump focus is on rolling back as many environmental regulations as possible and throwing open the gates of fossil fuel exploitation. These activities would encompass the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy, and the EPA. Currently, there are two women and one man in leadership positions for these three organizations, none of color.
Trump also wants to dismantle Dodd-Frank, cut taxes, yank as many financial and business regulations as possible, cut taxes, and do something with treaties, though we’re not longer sure what. Oh, and cut taxes. The impacts here are to the Department of Treasury, the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, the Trade Representative, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as other agencies. Among those I listed, one is currently led by a woman, none are persons of color.
President Obama has had one of the most diverse governments in history, though it could have been improved. However, considering the difficulty he’s had getting appointments confirmed, he’s done a good job. In particular, his appointments to the federal bench, and the Supreme Court of the United States have significantly increased diversity. In addition, his Executive branch appointments have increased diversity across most of the leadership spectrum—especially those related to national security and law enforcement, domestic administration, climate, and the environment.
If we want to judge whether Trump is interested in diversity or not, we need to look at all of his appointments, particularly in areas of his greatest interests. In these so far we’re batting zero: his Attorney General, CIA Director, and National Security Adviser choices are all white men.
It’s early days, though. Come January, we’ll know what importance Trump places on diversity. We’ll also know a great deal more about what he plans to do for the next four years by his Executive branch picks.
Originally appeared in Crooks & Liars November 25, 2016.