The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

16 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL they present include: leadership from the top that these behaviors are unacceptable; creation of multiple clear, private channels to report abuse without fear of retribu- tion; andmandatory exit interviews for all women leaving federal service. In Foreign Policy on Nov. 29, George- town University law professor Rosa Brooks, a former counselor to the U.S. defense undersecretary for policy and former senior State Department adviser, writes of her reaction to the request to sign the #metonatsec letter and her own experi- ences with sexual harassment—which had led her to resign fromher position at State. Several media outlets ran headlines highlighting top women ambassadors who had spoken out about harassment. The Washington Examiner on Nov. 27; and Time and Voice of America on Dec. 1, quoted Ambassador (ret.) Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, citing the July- August 2017 FSJ . In the Journal article, based on inter- views with seven female ambassadors by Ambassador Leslie Bassett, Amb. Abercrombie-Winstanley had briefly discussed her experiences with sexual harassment in the White House and at embassies overseas. According to the Dec. 5 Washington Post , the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board is working on a report on the topic of sexual harassment in the federal workplace. Preliminary findings show that in the previous two years, 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men expe- rienced “at least one occasion of sexual harassment” at their federal workplace. This figure was down from a similar survey conducted in 1994, in which 44 percent of women and 19 percent of men reported experiencing harassment. As Time magazine notes, the State Department’s policies on harassment are posted online. State’s Office of Civ il Rights handles all harassment complaints; they can be reached at Resignation Letter May Point to Mid-Level Distress There has been much media attention on the departures of top State Department career FSOs and on the hiring freeze limit- ing intake into the Foreign Service, but not so much coverage of the state of the mid- level Foreign Service. A Nov. 7 resignation letter, published online by Foreign Policy on Dec. 9, in which now-former FSO Elizabeth Shackelford offers harsh words for the administration, might be a sign of growing discontent at the mid-levels. Shackelford joined the Foreign Service in 2010 “in order to promote U.S. inter- ests and values overseas: advancing democracy, promoting human rights and establishing a more secure global order for the American people. In Somalia, South Sudan, Poland andWashington over the past seven years, I was confident I was contributing to these goals. This is no long- er the case under current leadership.” She concludes her letter, addressed to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as follows: “The [State] Department is a durable and vital institution. I am sure it will endure and ultimately overcome this period of marginalization, but the consequences will affect our global leadership and status abroad for many years to come. “I have deep respect for the career Foreign and Civil Service staff who, despite the stinging disrespect this administration has shown our profession, continue the struggle to keep our foreign policy on the positive trajectory neces- sary to avert global disaster in increas- ingly dangerous times. With each passing day, however, this task grows more futile, driving the department’s experienced and talented staff away in ever greater numbers. “I would urge you to stem the bleed- ing by showing leadership and a com- mitment to our people, our mission and our mandate as the foreign policy arm of the United States. If you are unable to do so effectively within this administration, I would humbly recommend you follow me out the door.” Ouch. SFRC Democrats Call for End to the Hiring Freeze, Increased Transparency I n a Dec. 6 letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the 10 Democratic members of the Senate Foreign Relations Commit- tee ask that the State Department hiring freeze be ended and request a briefing by Dec. 20. The letter is signed by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), TomUdall (D-N.M.), Chris Mur- phy (D-Conn.), TimKaine (D-Va.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The 2,300-word letter begins by expressing its authors’ “continued and increasing concern regarding your plans to reorganize the State Department, the arbitrary downsizing of the department’s budget and cutting of personnel, and public statements of disdain by adminis- tration officials for the people who work at the department and the important work that they do.” It continues: “To ensure the depart- ment is following the law and fulfilling its mission of promoting the foreign policy interests of the United States, the Sen- ate Foreign Relations Committee must be a full partner in the development of the department’s reorganization effort, budget and spending cuts, workforce